Chapter 100: Nine People
"Nine people?" Marle couldn't believe it. "Well, I'm in!"
"So am I," Crono agreed.
"And me!" Corea added.
There was a clamor of volunteers, but Rakin quieted them with a wave of his hand. "I'm sorry, but I can only take nine. Mom, dad, Corea, you all are needed here, and you know it. I don't know how long this mission will take, and the people of Guardia can't afford to be without their King and Queen forever. Besides, if this mission fails and we all die, who'll lead Guardia?"
"I'm going," the former Reaper told him. He walked over to stand beside Rakin. "He... Thanatos said that I must."
"I'm going too," Valiod insisted. "I can't get revenge if we never leave the planet. Besides, the Kingdom still exists. Removing me from the planet might destroy the Time Bubble. With the planet divided between the Kingdom and the Resistance, our planet won't stand a chance against the Hellbound or my chil... the spawn."
"Just try to stop me from going," Christina added, "and it'll be the last thing you do. I'm not leaving you to get into trouble without someone to watch your back, Rakin. It's not like my home exists any more, anyway."
"Can we come with you?" Mune asked. Masa looked surprised, but nodded his agreement as Mune continued, "We're... limited now. We'd just be out of place on this world without most of our powers, and we know a lot. We might be able to help out."
"I'm going, my Prince," Schala told him. Rakin rolled his eyes, but she continued, "Together, we shall make the Lavoids tremble." She held one of his hands, and he couldn't get it away from her. A moment later, Christina grabbed his other hand, just to make it clear she wasn't intimidated by her sister.
There was another cacophony of voices, but Thanatos raised his voice to interrupt. "Wait a moment. I'd almost forgotten. Rakin, do you want the Heart?"
"The Heart?" Gaspar asked. "Do you mean the Dreamstone Heart? Don't tell me you took that!"
"I thought Rakin might need it." Thanatos reached into some pocket in his cloak and pulled out a red stone, surrounded by machinery. He handed it to Gaspar, who held it almost reverently.
"The Dreamstone Heart of the Mammon Machine," Gaspar whispered. "It's what allowed the Mammon Machine to be created in the first place. It's designed to seek out Lavoid energy. But only Zeal was ever able to use it, because of her high exposure to Lavos. It's incredibly powerful, and incredibly dangerous." He looked up. "None of us can use it anyway. We don't have the Lavoid exposure."
"One of us can," Rakin said.
One by one, everyone turned to face the Magus. He frowned. "I should've known. The answer's no. I don't know anything about the Mammon Heart, and I sure as hell don't know how to use the thing."
"But you've been exposed to more Lavoid energy than any of us," Lucca pointed out. "I mean, just look at your hair."
"Yeah, look at my hair. But look at Valiod's hair, too." He pointed to the small figure. "He's got some blue in his hair, too. Can't he use the thing?"
Valiod was staring at the Heart with something like hunger. "I wish I could. I looked for that thing for decades before finally giving up on it. It can find Lavoids for you, and do a few other things. I can't use it anymore, but I could show you how."
Magus snarled. "For the last time, I'm not going! Has it ever occurred to you people that I might have a life?"
"No, you don't, Magus," Rakin said. His voice wasn't argumentative, only serious. "I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you're never going to find her."
Magus stared at him, anger in his red eyes. "You don't know what you're talking about. I suggest you shut up before I shut you up."
"She's not dead, you know." Magus opened his mouth to yell something back, but stopped at hearing this. Rakin continued, "She left the planet right after the destruction of the Ocean Palace. You were supposed to be waiting for her, but you missed it because of the creation of the Kingdom."
Magus stared in disbelief. "I... had a chance... And I missed it." His voice was flat. Cold. "She's gone."
"She's still alive, though," Rakin reminded him. "And if you come along, you might find out where she is."
Magus stared for a moment longer, then, without another word walked over to Gaspar. He snatched the red stone from the Guru's hand, turned, and joined Rakin's group. He didn't look at Rakin or any of the others, though. He was lost in thought.
"We've got room for one more," Rakin announced. "Who's coming along?"
"I shalt," Glenn volunteered. Lucca looked slightly alarmed, but kept quiet. He continued, "I shall avenge Frog, if Gaston canst be found among other worlds."
"Sorry," Thanatos said, shaking his shadowy head. "Afraid not. That sword you're holding counts as a person. Both of you would bring it to ten."
Glenn shook his head. "'Tis a pity. I wish..." He looked up. "Rakin!" Glenn took a step forward, drawing the Frog. "Wouldst thou take my sword? It has lost its power, but 'tis still invulnerable and sharp, and it may come in useful."
Rakin considered, and finally nodded. He took the sword and scabbard from Glenn, and placed them on his own back. "Thank you, Glenn," he said. "I'll take care of it." He turned to Thanatos. "Alright, Thanatos. We're ready to go. How about you?"
"I'm ready to send you off. Just remember the price you pay."
"Price?" Robo asked. "What price are they paying you?"
"Not me. This portal is designed to take the living to their final destination, not to move them to another part of the universe of life. The effects could be... unpredictable." Thanatos shrugged. "There'll probably be a few side-effects, such as temporary amnesia, switching of memories, temporary loss of power. And... I don't know if they'll wind up together or not, or even in the same time period."
"Wait a second," Lucca objected. "So you're sending them all out onto other worlds, where they might or might not be together, they might or might not exist in the same time, they might or might not have any of their powers, and they might or might not even remember each other!? This is a suicide mission!"
"But it has to be done," Rakin replied. "I'm still going. My vision of the future isn't as clear as it once was, but I do know that I need to go. I don't know about the rest of you. Any of you who want to stay here, tell me now." Nobody made a sound. "Okay," he continued, "let's go."
He turned to the portal. He hesitated only a moment, then stepped in. He didn't disappear, simply stood inside the portal, waiting for everybody else. Schala was next, hastening to his side, followed closely by Christina. Masa and Mune went holding hands, and the former Reaper didn't hesitate for a moment. Magus stood before the portal a moment, looked back at the Travelers gathered in the cavern, and stepped over the threshold. They all stood there in silence, and Rakin made a gesture to Thanatos. The entrance to the portal slowly began to close. It shrunk in size, leaving less and less of those inside visible, until finally, it was gone
Then the Time Wave hit.
This is not a good idea, Derias thought as the portal closed. Too much could go wrong. Too much is up to chance. I'll simply have to watch them. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get a chance to help. He sighed. Humans are very troublesome.
They could all feel themselves being pulled apart, piece by piece. They dissolved into the yellowness surrounding them, and reformed, separate from each other. Even the sword was now on its own. They floated in the yellow for a moment, and then vanished, each to their respective places.
The Kingdom's walls stood strong and impenetrable, surrounded by its Bubble in Time, and free of all threat. And then the Time Wave passed, a Time Wave unlike any that the Time Bubble had ever withstood. The Wave passed over the Kingdom, and where it passed, the Kingdom changed. Walls, people, towers, all vanished into a state of timeless Limbo, the entire Bubble ripped from the Time Stream. They would live forever, sequestered in their precious Kingdom.
Their prison for all eternity.
The Time Wave created by Valiod's disappearance from the world swept through the Travelers, but they were mostly unaffected. A few of them, such as Wethreem, Gedd, and Glenn, ended up with different outfits, but were otherwise unchanged. The Lavoid's shell remained unchanged, used to petty things like Time Waves.
The Travelers waited around to see if anything else would happen, but it was over. Thanatos was already gone, vanished into time. The Travelers were left to go home, wherever home was. Lucca and Gedd opened up several gates to the Beginning of Time, and the Travelers all went in. The last one to go through was Crono. He looked at where the yellow portal had been, but saw nothing now. He suddenly smiled. His son would make him proud. He went through the gate, and it closed behind him.
In the shell of the dead Lavoid, the game began. The players would change galaxies before it was over, but would they win? Ah, there was the mystery.
"The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible."
-Arthur C. Clarke
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