Chrono Trigger: The Planeswalkers
Chapter 33- The Eve before the Great Life or Death Struggle
By Mox Jet
Sitting in an Inn in Truce, the quintet recapped each other of the past weeks that they had spent away from each other. In the harsh wood chairs surrounding a table that was full of empty plates, Aragorn told of the Battle of Truce and his duel with Keltar. As his story came to a close, Jack retold the story of their ventures in Zeal and the ultimate fall of the Kingdom. Ordering another round of dessert and drinks, Jack sat back in his chair upon the completion of his story.
"And that's how it is," he said finally. Clasping his hands together, he sighed. "And we're going after him now."
"You think we're ready?" Tristan said. "Can we fight it?" Jack paused. He was still debating whether or not he felt he was strong enough to combat the thing without completing the design of the Spell. Barring from his mind what Topik has said about him being ineffective, he slowly nodded.
"I think we are," Jack said. "I've seen his strength. I think our strengths combined may serve to defeat it."
"How strong is he?" Rayith asked.
"Well, you know about Magus?" Sarah asked. Rayith nodded. "Well, he's a lot stronger than that. We think that Magus tried to fight Lavos in Zeal and was defeated. We haven't seen him since."
"So we're going up against something stronger than Magus?" Aragorn asked, slightly shaken internally by the thought.
"I can go pretty much even with Magus," Jack reminded them, closing his eyes. "With the help of you all and the addition with some Higher Tech Weaponry that we can gain from SSAF, I think we have a good chance."
"What makes you so sure?" Rayith asked warily. "If this thing is as powerful as you say "
"And when did you become a coward, Rayith?" Jack asked, slightly annoyed. Rayith looked shocked and sat back in her seat. "I'm sorry," Jack finally said. "But while I'm speaking of that, something deserves to be said. I don't expect any of you to come to this battle against your will. This is something that I know I must face. But, asking you all to go into a fight which you feel you will not come back alive from is just foolish. I cannot make that requirement of you. To ask someone to go to their death is idiotic. Forget all that crap about glory and honorable death. If you're dead, you're dead, and there's nothing honorable about that. If any of you wish to remain in your respective Time Periods, I will not be offended." Slowly, he extended his hand to the middle of the table, holding it there.
The table was silent. Sarah was the first to speak. "I will go with you, Jack," she said, putting her hand on his. "I'll fight beside you forever."
"And I will fight as well!" Aragorn said, placing his hand on the pile as well. "We've come a long way, Jack. And remember, I'm still sworn to the protection of you and Sarah!"
"I will fight as well " Rayith said, tossing her hand in. "If you think you can call me a coward and get away with it, Jack McKlane, you've got another thing coming!"
The four of them looked at Tristan who was sitting in his chair with his arms crossed. Casually, he shrugged. "What the hell, eh?" he said, placing his hand on the pile. "I mean, we all die sometime, right? If Lavos doesn't kill me, my smoking will. I'm in." Jack smiled and closed his eyes.
"All of you " he said. He opened his eyes. "Together, we will defeat this thing! We will bring its befouled soul to justice for the innumerous lives it has taken. For our past, for our present, and for our future!" The four others cheered in agreement, unanimously securing their fates.
"Now," Aragorn said. "We must plan our attack."
"Right," Jack said. "We should return to 1999 in our destroyed Time Period. At SSAF HQ, we should be able to reassemble and prepare for the final assault."
"And we can formulate our plan," Sarah said.
"Think about, though," Tristan said. "How much of a plan can we have? I mean, we go and we attack the thing."
"I have a mental imprint of it," Jack said. "We can try to map out its biological makeup and determine a weak point."
"Why do I have a feeling that there won't be such a weak point?" Tristan asked.
"Everything has a weak point," Sarah said. "There is no such thing as the perfect defense. We'll find it. And then, we'll exploit it."
Bidding farewell to foreboding discussion, the entire group decided to lighten the atmosphere. For what seemed like the first time in their journey as a group, they had a lighthearted conversation. Deciding to add to the fun, Tristan brought out a small plastic bag filled with some unknown substance and a piece of paper-like material.
"I've been saving this for a special occasion," he said, dumping out some of the stuff onto the paper and rolling the paper around it.
"Tobacco?" Aragorn asked, very intrigued. Tristan chuckled.
"The best damn tobacco that you'll ever smoke, anyway," he said, finishing his roll and taking out his lighter. Lighting it up, he took a puff inhaling the, as Aragorn would later put it, provocative fumes. "You can all take a toke, too," Tristan said, leaning back and looking slightly more relaxed. He passed it to Rayith who slowly took a chance.
"I thought I told you that you shouldn't bring that stuff along," Jack said, grabbing the 'cigarette' out of Rayith's mouth as she started coughing.
"Hey, if you don't want any, that's cool too," Tristan said with a shrug, grabbing the blunt back. "Just don't waste it." He inhaled deeply again.
"Wonderful," Jack said. "We have to save the world and all he wants to do it get lit "
"Well, don't hog the wealth," Sarah said finally. Tristan passed
it to her and she took a turn. Gradually, it moved around the table and the
conversation progressed to become markedly more goofy. The group laughed at
stories from Aragorn's youth and the adventures of him and his friends. In fact,
they laughed at just about everything. Luckily, the Inn's bar was relatively
empty, so no one complained about the 'disruptive party.'
No one noticed who Aragorn was. Even in their blazed state, it was interesting to see. If he was so much of a national Hero, why didn't people know what he looked like? If someone of his stature was sitting in a bar smoking some herb in Jack's time, people would be all over him, let alone ruining his reputation by gaining proof that he was smoking said marijuana in the first place.
Trading childhood stories proved to be an excellent distraction from the current task that lay before them. They were able to stay away from the mention of the world 'Lavos' or 'destiny.' That was good for all of their mental stability. Jack especially felt relieved to escape conversation about such things. His thoughts about destiny were almost going into the realm of denial. He didn't even want to think about it anymore. Hearing about the time that Tristan slipped his Physics C teacher sleeping pills before he was able to administer a test was much more interesting.
The weed was good, the company was good, and the coffee was decent. All of it came together for a night, or at least a few hours, of forgetting. And that was what they really needed. They needed a night to forget.
They spent the night in the Inn. Jack, who was the first one to return from his state his state of 'temporary loss of grip on reality,' decided it was best to return to 1999 in the morning. From there they would plan their final attack.
Waking up in the morning, Aragorn went down to pay for the night. After trying to use his identity to save him the 40g for the night in the Inn, he was met with a laugh and a snide remark about anyone being able to claim that they were Aragorn Lestrides. Going into his own pocket to pay for it, he was at least grateful that Jack and Sarah shared a bed, saving him some cash.
The group packed up and ate a quick breakfast of burnt toast and runny chocobo eggs before heading out of Truce and making the trek out of town. Once they found a suitable distance, Jack decided they it would make a fine spot for his homespun gate.
"We're not going to Truce Canyon?" Rayith finally asked.
"No," Jack said, feeling the surge of Time Winds in the area. "This spot will do nicely." Mouthing the words and performing the arm motions, the blue-black sphere appeared. Jack motioned for the others to enter first.
"You created a gate?" Tristan said. Jack nodded. "And can it transport more than three of us?"
"With my given power and the current condition of the Winds, I estimate I can send about 6 people through a gate and have it retain its proper form."
"Sounds fine to me," Rayith said, jumping through the gate first. Tristan also shrugged and followed the little red head.
"It will be okay?" Aragorn asked, still hesitant. Jack smiled.
"Just go in, you big lug," he said. Aragorn grinned and nodded, jumping through the gate. Sarah stepped up. "You're next, love," he said.
"You know, I'm gonna have to get used to you having pet names for me," she said with a smile. Jack smiled back and playfully pushed her into the gate. As she fell though time, she looked back and waved. Jack then closed his eyes and followed her in. Behind him, the gate snapped close with a cackle of magical energy.
1999 AD, Remains of Truce City
The group reappeared in the destroyed future that had been denied life by Lavos. The dark sky filled with smoke and the blackened and destroyed buildings incited a feeling of wrath in all of them. The structure of the SSAF HQ still stood strong at the end of the main street that Jack had sent them to. Not only was he moving them though time, now, but he was opening up the ends of his Time Gates in a different location from their original opening point. He was growing stronger.
As the made their way down what had once been the main street of Truce City, the wanton destruction was eminent. People in rags digging through garbage cans for remnants of food were all over the place. Broken men came up to the travelers begging for money. Everywhere, people were trying to find shelter from the snow that was coming down. The snow wasn't even white, but rather a dirty shade of gray, tarnished by the ash that was still in the sky after the Beams of Fire had hit.
"It's getting worse," Sarah mumbled. "Look at all these people. It looks as if survival was more of a punishment that the instant removal from this world that was destroyed. Would death have been a better option?"
"It won't matter when we're done," Jack said coldly. "We should cause a time wave rupture, changing the future. There will still be some damage from his initial rise to the surface, but we'll off him before he fires his main weapon."
"Well, according to theory," Tristan muttered. Jack ignored him. A pessimistic attitude wouldn't get anyone anywhere at this point. The walked up the street, tromping through the ashen snow that was now covering the tops of their clothes. The building towered over the surrounding buildings, mostly because it was the only one that wasn't almost completely destroyed. The twin double doors rose up fast as they climbed the large, marble staircase. As they walked up to them, the double doors opened, calling them inward.
Walking silently in to the mammoth building with its white floors and white walls, the five of the travelers made their way to the central elevator block. Calling for an up elevator, a whir sounded in one of the shafts as a set of doors on one end of the block slid opening, revealing a round elevator chamber. Quickly moving down the hall and entering the elevator, Sarah took it upon herself to activate the button for floor 60.
The elevator whizzed up the shaft as the digital readout of the current floor climbed. As the motion slowed down, the number 60 soon showed up on the readout. The doors opened and the group entered the entrance hall to the main office. The large secretaries desks which flanked the hall were empty. Walking past them, Jack looked up a set of stairs that came from both sides of the room, meeting together on the next floor.
"Wait here," Jack said dimly. The others complied. Slowly, Jack climbed the elaborate stairway, the ashen snow falling off of his tattered remains of shoes and dirtying the red carpet. Coming up to a set of large, oak, double doors, he hit a small button on the right side. He spoke into the speaker above the button.
"Commander McKlane to see the High Commander," he said. As he released the button, the doors opened inward, giving way to the well furnished office of the SSAF High Commander. Walking forward to the mahogany desk, Jack halted as the black leather chair behind the desk swiveled around revealing the form of the High Commander.
"That was quite a reconnaissance mission, Commander," he said. "We were close to deeming you MIA again."
"We had some setbacks," Jack admitted.
"From the looks of your clothes, and I use the term loosely, I would say so." He smirked. "But how goes the search for information."
"I learned a lot," Jack said. "I learned much about the Lavoid, and about myself as well."
"Well, I'm glad it went well," the High Commander said, seemingly hasty to get past formalities. "But please," he motioned to one of the black leather chairs in front of the desk, "Have a seat an enlighten me."
Jack slowly walked to the seat and sat down. He would have to be careful in what he explained. For the moment, he decided to leave out the part about him being, technically, the off spring of the thing they were trying so hard to kill.
"I was able to get information about its biological structure," Jack said, boiling down the past weeks journey to what was probably the only thing that needed to be said. "It was a lengthy process, but if I place the imprint into the computer, I believe we can analyze it and find a weak point."
"Excellent," the High Commander said. "We can start the analysis right away."
In the High Briefing room, about an hour later, the five-some gathered around a large table. In the middle of the table there was a large screen displaying a bird's eye view of Lavos. It had taken a little effort of some technicians, but with neural scanning equipment, they were able to extract the information about the Lavoid that Jack had imprinted in his mind. Now, they hoped to find a way to attack it.
Also in the room were the High Commander and a few of the remaining operatives that had survived Armageddon. A couple of scientists and weapon's technicians filled the room as well, mostly standing around the perimeter of the wall. Jack was standing with a pointing devices that teacher uses when examining a map in front of the class. He waited impatiently for everyone to settle down and get the briefing underway.
When he deemed ready, Jack began talking. "This, is Lavos," he pointed to the thing on the screen. "According to my information, Lavos is a being from another world. An alien, if you will. What we see on this screen is not is actual form, however. The giant mass of spikes is merely armor which protects his inner, possibly more fragile form. The armor in and of itself is not penetrable by use of normal TAGs. I believe that this armor will be excruciatingly difficult to crack, but if we are to reach the core of the alien unit, it must be passed."
"What do you propose we do?" a voice asked.
"If you look here," Jack said, continuing. "You see the front eye pod." The screen swiveled to a front view, looking dead on into the eye of the Lavoid. "This is his main view into the outside world. If ever there was a weak point in the armor, I believe that this is it. If you noticed, a three-prong lid, extending from one foot off of the ground to five feet off of the ground, sheaths the eye itself. It would probably be a safe guess to assume that it is made out of the same material as the outer shell. The eye itself, however, is damageable."
"So if we can get at its eye " Tristan said.
"Then we can remove it." Jack said. "If you look here " the screen swung back to a bird's eye view and switched into an x-ray scan. "You can see a channel that leads from the eye into this hollow space here." He pointed to a black area in the center of the readout. "The hollow space in the armor is the channel for the optic nerve. If we are able to maim the eye and remove it, we can use flamers to incinerate the optic nerve and create a passage to the inner core."
"And what is in the core?"
"The Lavoid itself," Jack said. "I'm not sure what it looks like. As you can see, the imprint I received of it is incomplete around the center. What we can tell is that the center is a circular room that is about twenty feet wide and eight to nine feet high. Once we're in there, we have about enough fighting space for three to four individuals to combat the core of the Lavoid."
"So we're limited in the number of people we can take to actually go in, correct?" Rayith asked. Jack nodded.
"So what now?" Tristan asked, getting impatient. "We should be able to just go and try to fry the thing, right?"
"I don't know if you could put it that simply," Jack said, "but that's the idea."
"What are we waiting for, then?" Aragorn asked. Jack shrugged.
"Nothing, I guess. I'd like to a few guns from the armory. I'd like to be sure we can get in there and blast it. I'm wondering if magical resistance will affect its resistance to energy weapons and the like."
"I don't know if just blasting it will work, though," Sarah said. "I mean, you'd figure it's stronger than that, right?"
"One would assume," Jack agreed. "But assumption is the mother of all fuck ups, after all. We should probably go into the fight expecting everything to be useless." The meeting droned on after that. Tristan got up briefly to explain the effects of defeating Lavos on the Time Stream. He was backed by a number of other scientists. They also began to form the rudiments of an attack plan, but they all knew it would be nothing but ad-lib from the moment they stepped out of the gate and faced the beast.
Tristan also went on to explain an added side effect of the Time Stream. He explained that everyone in the room baring the Time Travelers themselves would have no recollection of the events that had transpired over the past weeks. That was part of the Time Wave that would fix everything. It would recreate everything as if it didn't happen. The only ones unaffected from the memory erasure would be those who have been traveling through Time, as they had built up a certain 'immunity' from Time Waves. While not understanding the actual importance of this, no one complained.
The meeting about nearly an hour later after all of the logistics had been worked out. The group of five time travelers would set out tomorrow. Going to the End of Time, they would quickly make haste in taking the bucket to the Day of Lavos. Only then would they meet their ultimate destination, possibly in more ways than one. Defeat was not an option. If they failed, there would be no future. No one else from this time could fight it, let alone get to it in the first place. This was to be humanities last stand against the Lavoid.
"Are you scared?" Sarah asked Jack. He was standing near the window in the quarters they were using in SSAF HQ. He looked out of the window in seemingly lost in thought. He wasn't really looking for anything, just trying to think and work things about.
"Yes," Jack admitted. "Quite so." He clasped his hands behind his back. "I get sick to my stomach thinking about it. But, I shouldn't fear. Fear in the mind killer."
"It's okay to be afraid," Sarah said. "I'm afraid too. We're all afraid. Even Tristan, who tries so hard to seem unshaken. He's afraid too. I see it in his eyes." She was lying in the lone bed in the room, wrapping herself in the covers.
"I know," Jack said. "I guess to fear is to be human. We're all just that, though. We're all just humans. We're so limited in what we can do. History has been mocking us all of this time. Having survived for so long and creating all that we have. What has it all been for? Our culture? Our science? All of the technology we've utilized to make this world a better place, more fit for humans to live in? What has it all been for? It's so ironic, though. All he's doing is surviving, when you think about it. Is there any motive? Any real intention to the all of the suffering he's caused? No. It's just instinct."
"The greatest evils don't require motives, Jack. Something like insanity or evil is a motive in and of itself."
Jack sighed. He still needed to learn more about Lavos. He wanted to know why. He needed to know why all of this is the way it is. He had not been answered that in his brief conversation with him. Everything about their creation, that the Lavoid had told him. He needed more information. He had yet to tell everyone everything that he learned. He wanted the complete story before he explained it. Sarah should know, though. He should tell her first. She deserved to know.
"They were created as weapons," Jack finally said.
"When I spoke with him. I saw briefly into his past. The Lavoids were created "
"That's the frightening part, Sarah. They were created by us."
"What?" she said, sitting up in the bed. "How is that possible?"
"Not us directly, but humans. It was humans that created these things."
"A long way away and in a distant time. That's how Lavos felt about it. It was on another planet. A planet called Earth."
"How is that possible, Jack? We live on Earth!"
"No " Jack said, shaking his head. "This isn't Earth. Or, while we were meant to believe that it is Earth, it isn't. The name of this planet is Elosia. We live many light years from Earth, the supposed Birth Place of humanity."
"Humanity has progressed further than Earth?"
"On this planet Earth," Jack continued. "Humanity had spread to the stars. It was that we spread so far that was our downfall."
"I don't understand."
"According to the memory of Lavos, Humanity started to become hard to control. Being so far away, what form of central government we had was becoming weak. The bureaucracy couldn't manage it all. So, they needed a method of controlling the people. They needed a weapon that could force rebel planets into submission."
"Oh my God " Sarah said, putting it together.
"Humanity was using something called the Warp for Space Travel. What they called the Warp, we call Chaos."
"How were they using Chaos for travel?"
"Because of the nature of Chaos, time moves differently there because it is on another Plane of Existence. Humans had discovered a way to 'slip' into the space they called the Warp. Then, if the navigator of the spacecraft was good, they could travel through the Warp much faster than they could through normal space. Then, they could 'slip' out of the Warp again, in their new destination. Trips that would take centuries now only took weeks. It was the first step towards outer-planetary colonization."
"Lavoids are powered by Chaos " Sarah thought, analyzing the information. Her head processed the data quickly, bringing her to a conclusion. "The creators of the Lavoids. They used the Warp to power their creations, didn't they." It was more of a statement than a question.
"The power of Chaos was able to power entire cities for weeks while drawing on only a few cubic millimeters of the stuff. It soon became the solution to the energy problem that Earth was facing sometime around the year 2500 by their calendar."
"And they needed a power source for their inter-planetary weapon system " Sarah said. "So they gave the Lavoids the ability to naturally absorb Chaos in order to power them."
"They were tainted from their first generation," Jack said. "The forces of Chaos are evil. From the moment the first Lavoid was infused with Chaos, she instantly was driven to make direct contact. One direct contact with Chaos was established, she became unstoppable. That was the Mother. The first Lavoid. She gave birth to others, and they were sent into space to live out their function. That was the birth of the Lavoid Species."
Sarah closed her eyes. "I see " she said. "And so the cycle started there. But, why didn't the other Lavoids make direct contact with Chaos, also? That way, their Lavoid Energy would become basically pure Chaos. Wouldn't they all be more powerful?"
"The Mother wouldn't let them. While she wanted strong children, there was a certain amount of self-preservation involved."
"And by not allowing them to make direct contact her position as the strongest remained." Jack nodded.
"As to their purpose I don't really know. I'm sure there's something to do with the breeding aspect which I explained. But I think there's more to it than that. Something might be manipulating even the Lavoids."
"And you've known all of this "
"When you lock into the memory of something that has been alive for so long, you learn a lot."
Sarah was silent for a moment. "Come to bed," she said. "We
have an important day tomorrow. You need to rest."
"I guess you're right," Jack agreed. "I've got so much to think about still."
"You can think about it later," Sarah said, turning up the covers for him to climb into the bed. "Sleep now. It's better for your mental health." Jack sighed.
"When was the last time I asked 'what would I do without you?'"
"About half an hour ago," she said with a smile. Jack tied his hair back and climbed into bed.
"What would I do without you?" he asked her again, kissing her and wrapping his arms around her.
"Probably sleep in your own bed?" she said with a grin, reaching over and turning out the light.
"And we know that would be horrible," Jack said, nuzzling her neck.
"I love you," she whispered. "Whatever happens in the rest of the world, that'll always be the same."
"I know," Jack said. "And that's why I don't know what I would do without you."
"A fight to the death with you. Only in that can my soul find respite. I will kill you...Or you will kill me...It makes no difference." - Cyborg Ninja talking to Solid Snake
To Chapter 34
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