Chrono Trigger: The
Chapter 35- Back to the Beginning and All Over Again.
By Mox Jet
2000 AD, Guardia National Park
The main problem with a Time Wave is the fact that when you go through it, your consciousness has to pass through the fourth dimension. As a result, all but the most experienced travelers of the multi-planar universe tend to fall unconscious. Such was what happened to the five so-called heroes that were beat to their shot of killing Lavos by another rag tag group of 'heroes.'
And so now, Jack, Sarah, Aragorn, Rayith and Tristan all found themselves thrown a few months forward through time, reverting their temporal state to what it had been right before they had come to meet Lavos. The only difference was that now everything wasn't the same as it was.
All of the trees were still intact. There were no fires in the sky. The atmosphere was blue, rather than gray. It no longer looked as if there had just been a nuclear war in Guardia. Everything had been changed back to the way it was. It had gone back to the way it had been before Lavos had fired his main attack.
They were right outside of Trann City, an oddly large distance from the scene of the 'battle' with Lavos. It had also been reverted back to its original state. The Dome was still in tact and all of the building stood at their original height. The ever-present snowstorm was no longer hovering over the city. The streets were no longer torn up and littered with people who were seeking shelter after their homes had been destroyed. It had returned to status quo antebellum. All was as it had been before the conflagration.
SSAF HQ was still in tact, and as they entered the building, it was filled with the people that normally filled the halls. The building, along with the rest of the city had been give new life. In fact, security was back up to normal high so Aragorn and Rayith were forced to stay outside for lack of proper SSAF Identification. For safety, Tristan stayed with them.
People once again looked at Jack and Sarah as if they were ghosts. While there clothes were much less torn apart this time, it felt just like when they returned to this time period the first time. More than likely, records would show that they had been deemed MIA months ago, and Sean Koren would have been deemed deceased. It made sense. Lavos had been defeated after killing Sean and sending Jack and Sarah through time. Plus, due to the effects that a Time Wave has on non-time-traveling people, no one would remember differently. Time had been altered only after the point of Lavos's death. Thus, the beam attack was nullified, but the fate that befell Jack and Sarah had not been negated.
The memory issue was the other pain about Time Waves, and Jack and the others would soon discover this when they went to explain their condition to the High Commander.
To get to this point, they traveled up, once again, to the highest floor of the building. This time, secretaries filled the desks and people were bustling about. People continued looking at Jack and Sarah as if they were dead, such an effect helping Jack get the secretary to allow him to see the High Commander in the first place.
They walked up the stairs and into the elaborate room for the third time, though everyone would think it was their first. At the end of the room, in front of the wall of windows, was the SSAF High Commander, sitting in his big, leather chair. One of the aides announced their entry.
"These operatives claim to need to see you, sir. I believe their names are…"
"Jack and Sarah," Jack completed his sentence for him. "We're…"
"You two? Do you realize you were proclaimed MIA nearly three months ago?!" the High Commander said, climbing out of his chair and walking up to them. "Where the hell have you been?!"
"Sir, with all due respect," Jack began. "You don't remember any of what's happened?"
"Of what?" the High Commander said, slightly upset at the sudden emergence of two soldiers who had been previously assumed dead.
"Don't tell me the word Lavoid doesn't ring a bell?" Sarah suggested. The High Commander felt like he was talking to children.
"Soldiers, you have two seconds to explain yourselves to me before I kick you out of my office."
"Sir, I'm going to require much more than two seconds." Jack sighed, sat down and explained, in great length, the story of their past three months of time traveling. From their original plan to kill Lavos to their position now where Lavos had been destroyed and no one could remember because of the Time Wave. At the end, the High Commander simply began laughing.
"Well, that's quite a story," he said finally. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you made that all up!"
"Sir!" Jack rebuked. "I swear every word of it is the truth."
"But I believe it," he said.
"But you have to-" Jack started to defend his point, not immediately realizing what the High Commander had said. "Wait. You believe me?"
"You story," the High Commander began. "It falls perfectly into place with what happened on the day that you disappeared. We had been looking for an explanation. That seems to…well…it seems to make everything come close to fit into place."
"How so?" Sarah asked.
"On the date of your disappearance, there was a large disturbance in the area that you went to, along with Commander Koren. While we do not have direct footage of the area, we have a few other pieces of evidence that lead to the conclusion that your story is true. First, when we finally got our men in there, all we found was a crater, yet there was no record of anything falling through the atmosphere that night. That would only lead us to conclude that it came from within the earth itself."
"What is the other reason?" Jack asked.
"Shortly after 5:00 PM on the date in question, our temporal monitors picked up an extremely large scale temporal disturbance that started at the point that you specified. It rippled outward from there. That would seem to match the description of the so-called Time Wave you spoke of."
"What happened after that?" Jack asked hesitantly.
"Naturally, we had to investigate the situation. We did not find any eye-witnesses, and you two were no where to be found. The crater in question had already been filled in, the earth around it shifting towards the middle. Geologists speculated that whatever had formed it was sinking into the earth. So, we immediately sealed off the area and cut off media connection. What we found…matches your description of this spiked alien being."
"You…dug it up?" Sarah asked. The High Commander nodded.
"We set up a research station in the park, totally Black-Op, of course. Unfortunately, while we uncovered this…thing…that you spoke of about a month ago, that's as far as we've been able to come. We can't really get past the shell and we don't want to damage the thing beyond repair. Our researchers have hit a bit of a jam."
"You're in luck," Jack said confidently. "Lavoids are becoming my specialty."
"So I speculated from your story," the High Commander said. "I assume that you'll be willing to help us?"
"Sir, I would have asked if you didn't offer," Jack said, hiding his true satisfaction.
"Excellent," the High Commander said. "I'll make sure you gain security clearance as soon as possible."
"Thank you Sir," Jack said, standing up and saluting. With that, he and Sarah both turned to the door and exited the office.
Jack and the others sat at a coffee bar somewhere close to SSAF HQ. Sitting on a series of couches and sipping drinks ranging from straight, black coffee (Aragorn) to hot chocolate (Rayith), Jack made himself busy as he explained what was happening with SSAF and what they would be working to achieve.
The idea behind the excavation wasn't what he had really intended when he walked into the office of the High Commander, but it had actually turned out okay. He was hoping that they would be able to get a closer look at the biology of the creature. Tristan was equally looking forward, in the name of science of course, to perform an autopsy on the actual form of the Lavoid Core.
"That still doesn't change the fact that we didn't get to off him ourselves," Tristan said. "It feels…incomplete. Like, we're missing something."
"I understand exactly what you mean," Jack agreed. "I really wanted, as silly as it sounds, to take revenge with my own hands."
"But what is there left to do?" Sarah asked. "I seems as if our duty has been lifted from us, and no one will even blame us for not completing it. I guess if the world was saved in the long run, it shouldn't matter who actually delivered the final blow, should it?"
"Sarah speaks with great maturity," Aragorn said, "Yet as a warrior, I would have hoped to meet it in combat."
"And I was up for the challenge, too," Rayith said.
"Needless to say, there's suddenly nothing that seems worth doing," Jack said. "I still will have to place Aragorn back in his own time, and Rayith too, if she has decided to go."
"Ray, you can always crash at my place," Tristan said with a wide grin.
"I can also dump hot chocolate all over your pants," Rayith said with a smirk. "That doesn't mean I'll do it."
"Suit yourself," he said with shrug.
"You can stay at my house, too, Rayith," Sarah invited.
"Thanks guys, but…you know I'm not really sure what I'm doing yet," Rayith said with a sigh. "I'll stay here a few more days anyway, just to see how things cool off. I'll decide after that."
"And you, Aragorn?" Jack asked. "I can take you back whenever you wish to go."
"I think I'll also remain in this time for a few more days at least," he said. "And then I can go back whenever it is easy for you to take me back."
"The gates have probably begun to close, at this point," Tristan said. "I think it was Lavos's influence that created them. Now that his temporal disturbance has ended, they should close."
"But I can sill warp time," Jack pointed out. "Time travel is no longer limited to the gates for me."
"Naturally," Tristan said, somewhat sarcastically.
"Yet we still don't know what to really do next," Sarah pointed out. "Jack , I know you want to go in and solve their problem with penetrating the shell. I guess our options will open up from there." Jack spoke.
"I still have I out for Lavos," he admitted. "I guess that since everything was returned to how it was, then all of the lives were saved and it was all taken care of. I never got to have it out with it, though. Maybe…" Jack trailed off.
"Maybe what?" Rayith asked.
"Maybe…just because I couldn't get this Lavoid…" he paused before shaking his head. "No…" he said. "That's silly. I want to check out the innards of the Lavoid. Then I'll figure out if there's anything left for me to do. Right now, this seems like my last 'duty.' I'm finish it before thinking about what to do after."
Jack took Tristan with him when he first visited the excavation site a day later. The security around the place almost seemed like overkill. They had to pass about three security check points where they were patted down at each one and sent through a series of scans. By the third check point they even encountered some problems since their identities had been put on the 'cleared personal list' so recently. Nothing short of approved clearance from SSAF High Command allowed them into the main building.
The Main building itself was a spectacle. The walls were all stark white like those in SSAF HQ, but there was no beauty to this place. There was no ten story entry hall with an atrium or any elaborate facilities for the officer's enjoyment. There was no gym and no training rooms. Everything in here fell into one of two categories: research or security. Cameras lined all of the walls and detectors of various sorts filled all of the doors. Nothing could be taken into or out of a room with certified approval from and written documentation from High Command. This was not a project that the SSAF, or the entire Government for hat mater, was taking lightly.
Before even entering the lowest security zones, you needed to strip out of your clothes and enter a bio-decontamination system. After that, it was "white-suit only," meaning one was only allowed to wear white surgical scrubs. Long hair had to be tied tightly back and kept inside of the scrubs. This annoyed both Jack and Tristan. And his was just for the low-security labs that were just doing whatever research they could on the effects that Lavos had on the cavern in which it was found.
When they actually neared the lowest cavern where the form of the Lavoid had been uncovered up to about a meter or two below the eye-pod, one had to wear a completely encasing bio-protection suit. The security that they kept Level Four Transferable Viruses at the Biological Warfare Research Institute was lighter than the ready room for the actual Lavoid chamber.
In the Ready Room, Jack and Tristan were introduced to Dr. Jurai. The good doctor was stuck with the position of lead researcher on Project Hellreach, as the project had been named. He doctor was a tall man with short, dark hair and sharp facial features. He greeted them as the began to dress into their suits.
"Captain McKlane?" he asked, extending his hand in greeting.
"That's me," Jack said, shaking the Doctor's hand. "And this is Tristan," he motioned to the blonde man standing a few steps behind him. Tristan also shook hands with Doctor Jurai.
"Even we're kept in the dark about some things that central command does. We just know that you have some knowledge about the specimen, correct?"
"That's right," Jack said. "I'm pretty familiar with it at this point, but I'd still like to learn more and help out. I hear you're having difficulty getting past the main shell."
"That's it," Jurai said. "If you'd like to follow me, you can have a look at it." They began walking through a series of chambers and sealed their protective helmets. They could communicate through intercom from now out. The Doctor spoke. "I am interested," he admitted, "in why you know about this thing. We just dug it up about a month ago and I don't know how you could have accessed any of the information."
"I've…had a run it with this guy before," Jack said. "I don't really know how to explain it. You'll just have to take my word for it. If you don't believe me now, you'll at least believe me when I get you guys past the shell."
"You can do that?" the Doctor asked.
"Doc," Tristan said, "I'm starting to think that there isn't
anything that Jack McKlane can't do." As he said this, the trio walked was
met by a hissing sound as the airlock they were in slid open to reveal the
Lavoid cavern itself. The hollowed out area was huge. Fully revealing the dead
shell of the Lavoid from the eye pod up, the Lavoid had been uncovered around
its entire circumference as well. Cat walks and support beams stretched over the
form of the shell. The entire room was lit by a dim light. Flashing yellow
lights around the exits also helped illuminate the massive room.
"Now," the Doctor said as the climbed down a series of ladders onto the ground level. "We've considered going in through this pod in the front here, but we're not sure what would happen if we did that. We've also tried to break through the shell, but all small-sized and mid-sized cutting devices aren't proving effective. Basically, the sum of our problems is that all we might be able to do is destroy the shell out right when what we really need is to just dig a small tunnel through it."
"Have you tried to cut through anywhere?" Jack asked as the climbed up on to one of the cat walks that stretched over the shell.
"We have, but this spike structure is proving to difficult to allow for cutting. We can't get around the blasted things." Jack turned to Tristan.
"What about where Epoch hit it?" Jack said. "Wouldn't there be some sign of damage?" The Doctor stopped walking.
"Then it's true…" Jurai said. Jack and Tristan also stopped walking.
"What's true?" Jack asked.
"That you were at the site where it surfaced," Jurai said. "That you were an eye witness, somehow thrown through time by the temporal distortion." Jack furrowed his brow.
"It's not important," he said. He jumped down from the cat walk and landed on he spiked shell. Walking up to a set of spikes that were slightly discolored, he realized he had found what he was looking for. "Here," he said.
"The Epoch crash?" Tristan asked.
"Probably regenerated from then," Jack said. "They look like the area that the Epoch might have dug through. It doesn't make sense that it would be able to regenerate after it died, though…"
"Maybe the shell itself runs automatically off of a separate power source?" Tristan suggested.
"Well, anyway," Jack said. "I'm going to solve our shell problem now. If I'm right, the substructure of the shell should be weak underneath these discolored spikes here," he explained to the Doctor. "I doubt that regeneration could be complete."
"Captain," the Doctor began. "You can't just do that. You need clearance before you can-" the Doctor was cut off as Jack slowly waved his left hand upward. At his command, three of the, discolored spikes slowly separated themselves from the shell. Directing the spikes to the right, Jack magically placed them on the floor. He slowly walked up to the hole he made in the armor.
"Look at that," Jack said in success. "You see this here?" he asked the Doctor. "This is barely reconstructed. We should be able to cut through the sub-armor with ease." The Doctor was speechless.
"How did you…" he began to say. Jack shrugged.
"The spikes?" he asked, almost innocently. "Don't worry about them. They were still new. You can probably take them and analyze them and come up with something interesting." Jack had now attracted the attention of everyone working on the floor. They just sort of gathered around the spikes which he had directed to the floor. Everyone looked through their plastic protective masks in disbelief.
"Unbelievable…" he Doctor said as he looked over the hole at the fresh, soft armor that was underneath the spikes. "We…should be able to get through this stuff much more easily. Will you explain how you did that, though?" Jack sighed.
"Magic is an amazing thing," Jack said. The Doctor shrugged it off as a cryptic statement. Jack realized that he wasn't making an impact. He decided on a better explanation. "Force Tech," he lied. "It's a use of Force Tech I picked up over some time."
"I see," Jurai said, gazing back into the hole. "So…what will we find down there?" he asked. Jack chuckled.
"That, good doctor, I don't even know. Hey, you're the scientist. Go do your thing." The Doctor was still taken aback over how this…boy…had solved a problem in two minutes that they couldn't solve in a month.
"Well, Command was right when they said they were shipping in a 'Specialist.' Are you going to stay to see what we find?"
"Of course," Jack said. "I'll even go down first, if you want." Jurai nodded. He turned and called down to two of the men on the floor below.
"We're going in," he said to them over the communications network. "Keep conditions standard." One of them gave a hand signal of clarification before turning back around to examine the spikes that were on the floor. Jurai looked at Jack and Jack nodded.
Deciding to go in first and clear the path, Jack used magical emissions to cause the weak substructure of the armor to peal away and create a tunnel which they would use to go down into the central chamber. Jack had only opened up a hole big enough for about two men to fit down at once, but once he slowly descended past the upper layer of armor, he found that the lower layers were not nearly as well regenerated. A few feet into the armored skeleton, the hole had grown to the size of the Epoch in width. From there on, floating down became easy.
A cross section of a Lavoid's shell is not easy to describe. The majority of the portion that isn't pure armor is either used for sensory perception or for channeling the Beams of Fire up to the firing ports which are located in each of the eighteen or so 'major' spikes. Either way, the armor is thoroughly laced with all sorts of bio-matter which, at the moment, Jack had no real explanation for. That would all soon change, of course, once they began a full scale study of the thing.
This Lavoid, from the eye pod to the base of the top spike, was about five stories tall. The actual central chamber seemed to be located below the level with the eye, roughly seven stories below the entrance point which Jack had created. While the central chamber was within visible distance, the pure darkness that filled the shell once you got past the first ten feet or so made it impossible to discern the location of the chamber. Jack was still in the lead when he finally hit the floor of the chamber. Tristan had slowly carried the Doctor down, and they landed right behind Jack.
Now very anxious to get a good look, Jack held out his finger and mumbled, "Lighting." A small glow orb lit up and the room was illuminated.
"Amazing…" the Doctor said.
"Yeah," Jack agreed, gazing around. "Amazing is right." The central chamber was about twenty feet wide and nine feet high, almost exactly what Jack's original estimates were. All along the walls were glittering objects that reflected a purple light. They almost seemed to be some sort of magical residue combined with natural Lavoid Energy. Quite interesting, in the very least.
There was a series of 'duct' like tubes which ran across the ceiling and the floor and they all seemed to lead to one central location, a large mass in the middle of the chamber that was suspended a foot a half off the ground. It was surrounded by a coat which seemed almost like a crystalline cocoon for whatever was in seen.
"Great Vigo's ghost…" Jack mumbled, directing the light closer to the cocoon in the middle of the room. As the cocoon was illuminated, the haunting form of a bluish, humanoid creature without hair and without a nose became clear.
"Is that?" Tristan asked.
"It's Lavos…" Jack said. "He's…not dead?" Jack ventured closer, walking slowly up to the suspended 'corpse' of his father. His heart started to beat faster…and faster…and faster.
Looking very closely at the thing, he touched his hand to the cocoon, searching for signs of life. What were the signs of a life in a Lavoid? Should they be the same? Wait…something was there. Good lord. It was there. A pulse. There was a pulse.
"It's still alive…" Jack said. "It's…not conscious though." Tristan walked up to the thing.
"Judging by the way this is set up, I'd say that his shell was trying to revive him. Crono and his friends beat him up pretty good though. He looks like a vegetable to me…"
"Do we…have to worry about it?" The Doctor ask.
"I don't know," Jack said. "I'm trying to figure out what happened here." He paused in thought. "I guess it makes sense," he finally said. "After Crono and the others defeated him, the temporal disturbance that was created would have sent them back to their original time, just like it did for us. That would leave Lavos by himself, too weak to launch his attack. So all he could do was…"
"Go into a state of hibernation," Tristan said, finishing Jack's sentence. "He hooked himself up into the armor in hopes that he could come back to life and attack again later. You think that…" he paused.
"Think what?" Jack asked. "What do I think?"
"You think that the Time Wave wasn't because he was killed? Maybe he set off the Time Wave just to throw his assailants back in time and out of his way so he could recover his wounds." Jack didn't answer. Instead, he swallowed hard, feeling his stomach bunching up inside of his throat.
"Well, he's not going anywhere now…" Jack said, hiding his inner fear that the Lavoid might not be entirely dead after all. Instantly charging up an insane amount of power, he jumped off of the ground and swung his hand out at the tubes which ran to the cocoon. He let out a battle cry, severing the top tubes in one blow from a magical blade and dropping down to severe the tubes on the bottom with a second blow. The tubes momentarily spewed some sort of goo out into the open before silencing as he crystal cocoon dropped to the floor and shattered. There, in the middle of the shattered crystal, cringed the limp, unconscious and otherwise lifeless form of the once powerful Lavos. Disconnected from it's life support, it was now dead, a cold, shriveled little thing that had lived in power for to long. Jack slowly walked up and stood over. Sneering, he spit on the corpse.
"I'll see you in Hell, Dad," he said bitterly. "May you rot there long before I arrive."
-Naomi Hunter and Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid
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