Chrono Continuum

Chapter 95: The Gift of Life

by Cain

1999 A.D.

The noise was awful.

The Hellbound were everywhere, screeching, shouting, crying, moaning. Several of the Travelers realized that these must have been the Hellbound from the Red Omen, and had somehow escaped. None of them looked healthy. In fact, they all looked like somebody had drained them of all vital fluids and energy and left nothing but bones and a willingness to just lay down and die. But they couldn't die, not yet. Valiod had told them to go and kill, or at least hold off the Travelers, and so they went. Most were naked, and even the human ones looked hideous in their malnourishment. But they were still Hellbound, and they were still powerful.

A particularly hairy and wolf-like Hellbound lunged at Ayla's throat while the cave-woman was trying to throw off a man who had locked his arms around her neck. She quickly turned so that one ran into the other, and they all fell into a heap. But the wolf-thing was blind with rage, and mauled its Hellbound ally while Ayla slipped out from under them. Even as the man cried out in pain, he reached for Ayla, trying to kill her for his master.

Magus' scythe flashed brightly as it punched in and out through the stomach of one Hellbound, and with one hand he absently blocked a rather weak fireball thrown at his face. He wasn't tired, and he still was nearly fully stocked on magic. On the other hand, the Hellbound he'd just disemboweled was still coming, and the one that had been hit by the deflected fireball didn't react other than to lunge at Magus. These things were already dead, and all that was important was getting at their prey. Magus knew he could last a long time, but he also knew he couldn't afford to be hit in the wrong place. So he continued to fight, whirling and dodging and killing, at the peak of his power.

Crono fought with a cold fury, moving as little as possible while doing as much damage as he could. Unfortunately, little seemed to kill the Hellbound except decapitation, and even that didn't work with some of the more inhuman-looking cases. A crossbow-bolt flashed over his shoulder to stab into a Hellbound's eye, but the thing barely slowed down. Crono silently wished that there was enough room for Marle to use some Ice, or that he wasn't wearing this damned magic-inhibiting armor.

Lucca, Gaspar, and Melchior fought with their backs together. From the beginning, they were on the edge of being overwhelmed, and they were the closest to the exit, but they only gave fleeting thought to escape. It just didn't seem to them like an option. They were here to get something done. Of course, none of them knew that when they made that decision, they changed their own history, but that wasn't important right then. The three may have run in another Timeline, but they wouldn't now.

Together, the Travelers fought the horde. The Hellbound wouldn't die, but the Travelers wouldn't give up. Slowly, they started to put the Hellbound down for good, one by one, though certain Travelers were starting to need reinforcements. They all knew, though, that this fight was taking too long. The Spawn were going to wake up soon, and they had to stop it. Somehow.


Same Time Period

"We're moving too slowly!" Janus growled. "We'll never get there in time to make a difference."

Lucca didn't respond. She wanted to tell him that she wanted them to be late, for the danger to be over so that her husband wouldn't be killed, but she didn't. She was silent.

"We've... We've got to fly," Janus told her resolutely. He was surprised when she didn't try to protest, but thought she must realize how serious he was. He smiled and stroked her cheek. "I'll go... You don't have to-"

"The hell I'm not coming! You're in no state to fight," Lucca pointed out. "You're going to need me."

Janus nodded. "Yes. I will." He closed his eyes and tightly held her hand. He concentrated on the feel of flight, of how the magic moved through him... and they suddenly floated into the air.

Lucca blinked. "You did it! I didn't think you could!"

"I couldn't," Janus told her, equally surprised. They continued rising until they found themselves hovering thirty feet above the ground. Their daughter was floating in front of them. Janus shook his head. "Schala? What are you doing here?"

"Giving you a hand," Schala replied. "Come. We must hurry if we are to get there in time. The Dance has already begun, and soon Destiny will call for our assistance."

She turned and flew off, and her magic pulled her parents along behind her.


Same Time Period

Thanatos frowned. The time was coming near. Time, of course, was no obstacle to him, but he'd never believed in running from a problem by escaping backward into the Timestream, so he fully intended to get there without being too late. He'd managed to fix what he'd taken from the Ocean Palace... almost. There had been a lot of exposure to Chaos energy, something he'd only been able to lessen, not repair. But other than that, everything was in working order. He only hoped his plans turned out the same. If they didn't... he didn't even like to think about it



Same Time Period

"Christina," Rakin repeated, "Christina. Chris. Wake up. Can you hear me?" Christina didn't react. Her breathing was starting to slow down. Rakin shook her, but still got no response. "Come on, Chris, wake up! Please..."

For a moment he looked lost, but he closed his eyes and gathered himself, and he was suddenly calm. None of the Hellbound attacked him; he didn't want them to, so they couldn't. His power worked the best when he wasn't concentrating on it, and they certainly weren't important enough to warrant his attention. Right now he was concentrating on Christina.

"Christina," he said, and she seemed to turn her head slightly. "Christina, I want you to listen to me. Listen. I can help you. But you've got to wake up enough to talk to me. Alright?" She didn't respond. "Christina, listen. Doth thou desire the Power?" Her eyes seemed almost to focus on him, but she said nothing. Rakin's breathing quickened slightly. "Come on, Chris. You've got to answer. I can help, but you have to accept it. I can give you the Power, share my Power, like Spekkio did for me. I finally figured out what it was, and I think he knew all along. It's the Power of human potential. Do you see? If you take the Power, you can save yourself."

Christina stared up, as if seeing through him, but said nothing.

"Chris, come on!" Rakin's eyes took on a slightly fevered look. "You've got to take it! When you die, this world burns! That's not a threat, it's a promise. I've seen it. This world can't survive without you. You're needed, or it's all for nothing!"

Christina seemed unsure.

Rakin placed a hand on the side of her face. "Chris, do you trust me?"

Christina's head moved in a weak nod. Her breathing was extremely shallow.

"Doth thou desire the Power?"

Christina took a deep breath, and wheezed out a "Yes..." as her breath left her. After a moment, her heart stopped.


Same Time Period

Valiod frowned. He could feel the Hellbound dying. He had expected them to lose, but not this quickly. At this rate, the Travelers could reach his children before they awoke. And he certainly couldn't have that.

He closed his eyes and did something that he hadn't done in centuries. He reached out with his mind and changed the space in front of him. It began to slowly resonate with another place, a place that at once existed and didn't. A place of myth, but all too real. A place he never intended to go to again.

A form suddenly stepped out. He looked unhealthier than he had when Valiod had last seen him, but there was good reason for that. No words were exchanged. The figure simply set to work. He already knew what his master wanted. It was what he wanted, too.


Same Time Period

A single lightbulb, flickering weakly. It flashed on and off, and the intervals of light were becoming fewer and farther between. The bulb flashed once more, and then went dead.

And then, abruptly, the bulb realized it didn't need to turn off, so it didn't. It suddenly turned on, brighter than before, brighter than the sun, brighter than anything seen until then. It glowed on and on, and many of the faulty parts were repaired and made better than before. The bulb glowed so powerfully now, so grandly, that all other bulbs seemed dim in comparison. The bulb realized that one day, maybe soon, it could unscrew itself. It would no longer need electricity to make it bright. It would be able to generate its own light without help. And it realized all bulbs could, one day, undergo this grand transformation, that it could teach them. It looked forward to that day.

This was approximately what happened to Christina Zeal.

Breath suddenly burst back into her lungs. She still had little nicks and cuts and bruises, but she felt better than she had in years. She automatically felt at the hole in her shirt and found her belly, smooth and unbroken. She could tell that her eye was still gone, and so was the bottom of one of her arms, but she was healed beyond anything she had ever hoped for, and even the familiar wounds no longer had phantom pains.

She looked around, and realized her head was still in Rakin's lap. She found herself staring up into his eyes. "That," she whispered, "was amazing."

Rakin smiled. "I know."

Christina could only nod. She wondered vaguely if sex felt like that, then realized that now was probably not the time to be thinking about that. Especially since a Hellbound was about to smash in the back of Rakin's head.


"What the hell was that? It was like God called my name."

-Julian Skye, Deathstalker War



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