Whatever they'd been expecting, it certainly wasn't this.
Rakin was older, maybe by two or three years, and that time looked to have
been spent in training; he looked every bit as muscular as Crono. The
clothes he'd been wearing were gone now, replaced by a simple robe, like
Valiod's, but Rakin's robe was white, and had the symbol of the Kingdom on
the chest. Rakin's hair had grown out, reaching down to his lower back, and
was held in a ponytail. His nose was very slightly crooked, as if it had
been broken and healed incorrectly, and there was a small scar on his right
cheek. He favored his left leg slightly, as if avoiding an old ache in his
right leg. Most surprising, however, were his eyes. They were still green,
but they were cold, so very cold. They stared out at his friends and family,
not with hate, but with something perhaps worse. It was as if he didn't
recognize them, or care what happened to them.
Marle, however, noticed none of this. "Rakin!" she screamed, and immediately
began to push her way through her fellow Travelers, trying to get to her
son. "Rakin!" She didn't even notice that he wasn't reacting until Crono and
Corea managed to forcibly restrain her from going any further. She didn't
shed a tear, but she called his name again. And again. "Please, Rakin," she
pleaded, "Say something!"
"Marle!" Crono reprimanded her, his gaze never leaving the green eyes of his
son. "Marle! Stop it. Can't you see? Look at him. Look at how he's dressed!
Look at how he's standing. He and Valiod are standing the same way."
Indeed, the two were standing in the exact same stance, including the
favored leg, but while Rakin's face was calm and unfeeling, Valiod smiled as
if amused. "Very good, Crono," the monster in child's form congratulated
him. "You've a sharp eye. Yes, I'm afraid dear Rakin, here, isn't in
"An MC Chip!" Gedd snarled, his hand only an inch away from the button that
would bring his armor.
Valiod chuckled darkly, which sounded disturbing from a child. "I'm afraid
not, mechanic. No, it's much, much worse. He's not under some device's mind
Wethreem shook his head in denial. "Shining heavens! You've... you've...
Valiod's smile widened. "Indeed. He is mine, now, body and soul. He would do
anything for me."
"Including destroying all of you," Rakin finished for him.
Robo blinked. "That is strange... He speaks with his own voice, but the
inflection is wrong. It's as if..."
"As if Valiod was just speaking through him," Christina spat. Her face, like
her voice, betrayed the fury she felt inside. "It's just another of Valiod's
little tricks. If we kill him, we can get Rakin back." She leveled her spear
at the child.
"No!" shouted Lucca. "You can't! If Valiod dies, we have no way of knowing
what could happen to Rakin. He might die, too."
Marle held her husband tightly as she looked up into his eyes. "Crono..."
Crono stared into her eyes for a moment, but she saw nothing that gave her
hope. Crono, the carefree boy, was dead now. Crono, the King, looked into
his son's eyes, and said, "Better dead than a slave."
Valiod suddenly laughed, and Rakin's mouth turned upward in a tiny smile,
like a reflection of his master's mood. "You act as if you all have any
choice in the matter," Valiod told them. "The simple truth is, Rakin's going
to humble every one of you, and then I'm going to keep you for myself. Once
you've been given immortality like Rakin, Crono, and the Magus, all of you
men will make grand bodies. And you women... You shall learn to serve me as
well. I'll get you to cook feasts or something." The little boy smiled
wickedly, and turned around. Rakin stepped aside to allow Valiod to leave,
and then blocked the exit again, arms crossed defiantly.
"Damn it!" Magus exclaimed. "You idiots spent too much time talking!
Quickly, before Valiod gets too far, we've got to-"
"What!?" Lucca asked. "Kill Rakin? That's what you were going to say, isn't
Magus' eyes narrowed. "He's in our way. Besides, he's not really
Rakin! And in case you're curious, I was about to suggest we
"We can't," Corea said quietly. "Rakin won't let us. He's too good."
"What are you talking about?" Marle asked. "He's only one person."
"The right man in the right place can hold off an army," Melchior told her.
"You're son's the right man, and he's in the right place. As long as he's in
that doorway, we can't surround him."
"It is worth noting that Rakin doesn't have a sword to defend himself with,"
"Rakin doesn't need a sword," Rakin suddenly announced. Everyone else fell
quiet. "That's right. We're beyond swords, now. Valiod has released this
body's true potential. Behold..."
Rakin's eyes suddenly blazed with golden energy, and he raised his hand
toward Christina. Energy gathered at his palm, growing brighter and
brighter. Christina didn't move. The floor beneath them shuddered very
slightly. Some of the Travelers started to move forward, but Christina held
out an arm to stop them. She would stay at the front. The energy now was
brighter than the sun, brighter than anything ever seen before. It twisted
and turned on itself, as if trying to escape from Rakin's open palm to
destroy everything in the area. Christina didn't move.
A smirk altered Rakin's face, though not his eyes. "You are brave, girl. But
stupid. This body has enough power to destroy you all in one stroke, and yet
you stand there. Do you not understand what you are up against? We...
I am the Almighty One. You stand no chance of victory."
Without saying a word, Christina simply took a step closer. Her eyes never
left his as she took another step, and then another. She didn't stop until
her chest was less than a foot away from the tumbling energy.
Rakin shook his head slightly. "What do you think you are doing? This energy
could blow you in half from a mile away. At this range, there won't even be
ashes left if I halfway try. Do you think to shield your friends with your
body? It is a futile effort, if so. It will go straight through you. Or do
you plan to surrender?"
Christina simply stared into the green eyes.
Rakin frowned. "What is she up to, Voice? Voice? Answer me! Tell me!" He
snarled. "Fine! I don't need you anyway!" His expression darkened. "You've
sealed your fate, girl."
Christina smiled. "You sealed your own the minute you let Rakin into your
Rakin blinked, surprised. "What? What are you talking about?"
"Who's the Voice, Valiod?"
Rakin looked taken aback. "How did you know about him?" He appeared not to
have known he'd spoken aloud a moment ago. "Answer me!"
"What's the Voice told you, Valiod? Has it given you information about us?
Has it given you glimpses of the future, maybe?"
Rakin paled. "How... How could you know this?"
Abruptly, Christina laughed out loud. "Oh, Valiod. You are a fool. You never
even considered the most obvious answer." She shook her head. "You thought
you were in control, didn't you? You thought your mind was so grand and
advanced that no mere human mind could match it. Well, now you've found your
match, Valiod, and he's already inside your head."
Valiod screamed in rage through Rakin's mouth. The light left his eyes, and
the energy escaped from his hand with a roar, and then there was darkness.
You! screamed Valiod, furious. You're the Voice?
Who else, Valiod? Rakin replied, his voice expressing a smugness,
tinged with worry. What had happened to the energy? Had anyone been hurt?
You knew I was special. But it never occurred to you to think that the
Voice might not be from your own mind.
But... but you can't be here! I walled away your mind when I possessed
You did. And it was a strong wall. But any wall can be walked around,
with enough time and patience. And immortals like you and I have a hell of a
lot of both.
Valiod shrieked in rage. How... how could you? You're only human!
Rakin laughed. Only human, Valiod? Yes, I'm human. But you of all people
should know how far "only human" can go. I've read your memories. Does the
phrase "Shi' Kari" mean anything to you?
You... you... Invaded my memories! How!?
Simple. I watched you do it. Anything you can do, Valiod, I can do
No! You're human! Only human! I am a Planeswalker-
Not even close. Maybe if you'd grown up a little, you might have been
close, but now you're an eternal pre-pubescent.
Valiod's voice went wild with fury. I'll kill you! I'll kill you right
Don't think so. This connection is severed as of now.
Air filled Rakin's lungs as he gasped. He immediately lapsed into a coughing
fit, but he would survive. Valiod had nearly killed him, but he was free
now. He was on his hands and knees. Slowly, his breathing stabilized, and
for the first time in years, his body was his own. It was something he was
going to have to get used to again.
Now that the blood was no longer rushing to his head, he realized he could
hear worried murmurs and... crying? His pulse quickened. Nobody was
gathering around him. What else did they have to be muttering and crying
A white-hot blade seemed to stab into his skull as he got up. His legs
shook, but other than that he showed no reaction. There was no time for
pain. The room spun for a moment, but it soon settled down into some sort of
sense. He didn't flinch as his father's sword came up to his throat; that
wasn't what he was afraid of. The king studied his eyes for a moment,
weighing, but soon sheathed his blade and stepped aside.
Rakin knew-No, no, I don't know!-what he was going to find. But that
didn't stop him from dropping back to his knees when he finally saw. He
wanted to run, run away, but nonetheless he crawled forward. His mother said
nothing as she laid Christina's head, attached to the body, but her face
pale and her eyes staring, on his lap. Rakin couldn't stand looking as she
struggled to keep the last shreds of life from leaving her, but he couldn't
look away, either.
She had no stomach. The blast had gone clean through her and cauterized
everything on the way out. It had even gone through her arm, the one that
had once had a metal hand, leaving nothing below the elbow. She must have
tried to defend herself. Her breathing was one continual wheeze. He'd
never seen anybody injured this badly. He doubted anyone could surv-No!
She's going to live! But one look at his mother's face told him she
Rakin ignored her; pessimism would accomplish nothing. "Hold on," he
whispered into Christina's ear. Her eyes flickered in recognition at his
voice, but no words came from her. She was struggling just to breathe. "The
day you die," Rakin told her seriously, "This world burns." She coughed.
He didn't even look up as the other Travelers were suddenly ambushed by
Same Time Period
Valiod's breath burst back into him like a cold breeze on a hot summer
night. Trying to kill the boy had nearly killed him too. Or maybe it had
just been the shock of losing the bond. Hands tried to help him up, but he
waved them off. He was a Planeswalker, dammit. He was! And he certainly
didn't need any help from them. With some hidden effort, he stood.
His mouth twisted in anger. He could no longer feel the boy's power, could
no longer use it for himself.
Trying to forget about such a loss, he turned toward the spectacle in the
center of the room. Absently, he muttered something to the Hellbound about
defending the room, but he didn't notice as they walked out to meet the
Travelers. They were failures, all of them, and he paid them no attention.
What he watched were his children, still fast asleep in their cocoon. Soon,
he knew, they would awaken. And then they would give him power, power enough
to lay a planet to waste, power enough to give him a proper body. Power
enough to make his place in a universe in which he'd never really belonged.
Power. He laughed, and nobody sane would not have shuddered at that laugh,
coming as it did from an innocent-looking child's face.
"I will create a monument to non-existence!"
To Chapter 95
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