A brief introduction:
I started this story about a year and a half ago (I think Chapter 1 was released in September 2003, do the math). I moved right after Chapter 4 (this being around November 2003), and stopped updating, until I found my old files in a floppy I had used to transfer my files. Then, unfortunately, and for reasons beyond my understanding, my old account was closed, and all my files were taken off the server. Chapter 1-4 were lost forever, since I lost my floppy, and the old computer on which I had written them was so corrupted that it had to be scrapped. With school starting anew, I didn't have time to continue this, considering how long it takes me to update anyway, so it's been 9 months since the last chapter I wrote (Chap. 15). I am going to actually try to finish this. With that in mind, I'll point out a few extra things:
· Chapters 4-14 were written a while ago, so there may be a lapse in consistency. I'll try to run over them, however
· Please review, it makes me happy! Even if you don't review, I will still try to complete this work of mine, if only for self-gratification.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Date: 1003 A.D.
The setting sun hung listlessly above the earth, sluggishly falling over the horizon as if it honestly didn't want to leave its children behind. The sun had done this very action for billions of years, but nonetheless it was reluctant, and the sunset lasted over two hours that day.
Lucca grasped the wrench firmly in her hand, fit it to the bolt, and pushed downwards with all her might. The metal squeaked quite audibly, but besides this miniscule sound, the bolt did not budge.
Lucca hadn't changed much over the past few years. At sixteen, she was in the prime years of adolescence; yet, she wasn't any taller, certainly not any stronger, and her hair refused to grow out, no matter how much she willed it to so she could compete with her female peers.. She still invented, though sporadically now, and spent most of her time trying to improve herself. Lucca had never quite imagined that she would be one to care about her appearance; yet, all around her, she saw her friends turning into beautiful young women while she still deceptively looked like a little boy. Marle's hair had a wonderful blond sheen that glowed in the sunlight, complimenting her full breasts, slender figure, modest height, acute facial features, and splendid green eyes; all the boys, and many of the men, in the village fantasized about dating her Majesty Princess Nadia, and all of the boys (and many of the men), envied Crono for his friendship with the Princess. Marle was like a pop star in the cozy little village of Truce, and her status as Crown Princess just meant more fame and idolatry. Crono himself was chased by girls left and right; he had always been particularly lean, but the pudginess that accompanies early adolescence was gone and replaced by hard muscle. Any time he took a swim in a nearby lake, there would be at least thirty girls staring on, giggling incessantly, anxious to catch a glimpse of him naked as he came out of the lake and dressed himself. Yet, Lucca felt none of this. She was ashamed of her short, goofy-looking hair with its strange purple hue; she was ashamed of her bad eyesight that forced her to wear glasses, thick lenses that she had no choice but to wear before her vision was so innately bad. No member of the opposite sex chased her; this one nerdy kid with severe acne asked to see her calculations on a old invention, and she promptly scared the little boy away. Her irascible nature and overpowering ego pushed most people away, and this wasn't helped by her severely lacking physical appearance.
Grabbing the handle with both hands, Lucca bared her teeth, eager to shake those thoughts from her head with physical exertion, tensed her muscles, and forced her whole weight down on the wrench. The bolt screeched and lurched, and the conspicuous sound of a motor starting up confirmed Lucca's success. Relieved, she fell unto her back, and sighed loudly. The sun was almost set now, but the orange hue it exhumed still hung overhead. Lucca's arms were on fire, unaccustomed to such exertion, and they sporadically twitched. She would have fallen asleep if a figure hadn't disturbed the pale orange light striking her face.
Lucca opened her eyes, and was slightly startled at having the blond-haired, teal-eyed Princess of Guardia standing right above her, Marle's hair tied back as she had worn it in the old days, her crossbow latched to her back in the same makeshift leather sling, wearing the same pale blue tunic – washed, ironed, and starched with all the commodities of the throne, of course. Marle was smiling broadly, and held her arm out to hoist Lucca to her feet. Lucca had almost slapped the princess' hand away; Marle looked like a beautiful angel, with the sun at her back and her delicate features accentuated by her simple dress, while Lucca lay there sweating and panting pathetically, her inventor's helmet awkward atop her hair. Yet, the purple-haired girl took her friend's hand and pushed her contempt to the back of her mind.
"Ready to go?" The princess asked. Lucca grinned back and nodded. The motor of the large, winged machine besides her faded, and Lucca kicked it the metal roughly; the machine began whirring again. The two walked towards the Epoch, Lucca hopping into the driver's seat, and Marle sitting besides her. Lucca set the coordinates (not an easy task, considering their destination), and the two waited. In the distance, a boy, moderately tall, with unruly, flaming-red hair and a multi-colored katana on his side jogged towards the Epoch. His eyes kept their green vibrancy, visible even from the Epoch's cockpit, and he donned his green tunic and orange bandana. It was like the old days.
Crono grasped the side of the Epoch, and hoisted himself into the right-most seat. Lucca pressed the necessary buttons, pulled the necessary levels, and found herself thrilled by the whirring of engines under her feet. The large craft rumbled as its engines spewed blue fire behind it, and it slowly lifted off the ground, hung ten, twenty, fifty feet in the air, and sped towards the orange sun.
The End of Time still retained its mysterious, yet alluring, quality. The entire expanse of darkness was lit by a single, bright lamppost in the middle of a granite courtyard; the nine pillars of light that ought to have stood a few miles behind the lamppost were gone, due to Lavos' destruction, and a faint sound of snoring rumbled throughout the darkness. The trio walked towards the courtyard, guided by the faint glow of the tungsten bulb of the lamppost; the Epoch faded as they approached the light, and before long, there was nowhere to go but forward.
Crono, Marle, and Lucca walked into the large courtyard. It remained as it had always been. There was a bucket laying a few meters away, apparently undisturbed since the last time they had seen it; a cluster of stars flittered to their left; and, standing under the lamppost, an old man wearing a hat and holding a wooden cane snored, a massive bubble of snot protruding from his left nostril. Marle giggled at the familiar sight, and Lucca couldn't help but sigh at Gaspar's seemingly eternal grogginess. Crono tapped the man's shoulder, and the bubble popped loudly.
"Oh, what, Mother, I'm still…oh, hello there!" The old man exclaimed. He patted Crono on the head, and yawned loudly. "I haven't seen you folks since yesterday. Where have you been. How was your fight with Lavos?" Lucca pushed her glasses further up her nose. This would be her perfect chance to flaunt their achievements. She hadn't been able to inflate her ego for a long time.
"We pounded that oversized porcupine into the ground three years go!" Lucca exclaimed, punching one hand with the other for effect. "You should have heard it squeal as I stomped it into the ground. It was such child's play, Lavos was really overdramatized for no reason." She left out the fact that she had almost been killed, smashed by a giant moon, had Crono not shattered it. She left out the fact that her gun ran out of ammunition, her magical reserves were vastly inferior to those of Crono or Marle, and their entire party was desperately trying to keep her, Lucca, from being mutilated by Lavos' spines.
Marle furrowed her brown ever so innocuously, but Lucca noticed and frowned herself. Crono glanced at the two girls and lowered his eyes, perfectly aware of what had produced this silence.
"So, what are you folks here for, if not for Lavos?" Gaspar asked curiously, anxious to break the awkward silence. Lucca grinned again and pushed her glasses up her nose, more out of desire to dramatize her next sentence than out of necessity.
"We're here to see Spekkio!"
Spekkio's modest, square courtyard was no different than it had always been. Time seemed frozen in this place; even the pallid wind blowing near the lamppost was absent. There was some light, with no apparent source, glowing near the center of the stone courtyard; besides this, the arena was pitch black.
Yet, at the center of the square court, was a small white figure. It stood no more than three feet tall, but spontaneously paced, shuffled its stubby feet, or otherwise jostled to keep itself busy.
Crono, Marle, and Lucca moved toward the white figure. Its ears twitched as their heavy footsteps echoed in the empty court, and the small, monkey-like creature turned around slowly. A smile graced its lips.
"Welcome, welcome, long time no see!" Spekkio said in his characteristically high-pitched squeal. It had always been dreadfully ironic that the "Master of War" was about the size of the average human baby (and about two times fatter than one), and though he could change forms, Spekkio had always liked the appearance of the furry white creature the most. The three teenagers greeted him with smiles, but also with lingering anticipation and anxiety.
"What brings you here?" Spekkio asked. Lucca answered, slightly sardonic.
"What else?" She said. Spekkio grinned and motioned them to one side of the arena. Holding out a stubby finger, he pointed to Crono and directed him to the center of the courtyard.
The trio of Crono, Marle, and Lucca had found themselves rather bored with the trivialities of daily, and had therefore agreed to fight with Spekkio in his dimly-litted arena. Lucca had proposed the idea, and had pushed it when the others seemed reluctant. She even went as far as to repair the Epoch, a dauntingly exhaustive task, considering the machine had not been used in nearly three years, and the closing of the gates meant time travel in general was much more difficult. Lucca was not sure what made her so excited to see Spekkio. She hadn't used her magic in years, and as a result felt a growing desire to do so.
"One at a time now!" Spekkio squealed, the glee apparent in both his countenance and voice. Apparently the Master of War was glad to have some company every so often.
Lights suddenly flooded the room, and everything became as clear as day; the brass palisade surrounding the courtyard, shaping it into a square; and the two figures standing in the middle of the arena. Crono drew his katana instinctively, but sheathed it when he remembers that physical weapons were useless against Spekkio: it wasn't that he couldn't be hit, but that he never allowed anyone to do so. He would either dodge the blow quite effortlessly, or the attack would go astray by itself (Crono suspected it to be the work of a devious magical shield). Marle and Lucca sat together in one corner of the room, and waited in anticipation.
"I haven't seen Crono fight in a long time." Marle remarked. Lucca nodded inattentively, and suddenly slapped her forehead.
"What are they doing just staring at each other? Jeez, I wanna fight…" Lucca muttered in frustration. Marle chuckled at her friend's antics, but quickly turned her focus back to the center of the arena. Spekkio had his stubby fingers help up in the air, and the tips started shimmering strongly. Marle had used this spell often enough to know what it was.
Crono ran towards one of the brass palisades, jumped on the top of one of them, and jumped unnaturally far into the air. Lucca's eyes opened wide at Crono's acrobatics, and grew even wider when a giant sheet of ice came from nowhere and almost crushed the boy. Crono had apparently seen it coming, and had leapt unto the hoarfrost sheet, tensing his legs and jumping unto another incoming iceberg.
"He is a god…" Marle whispered, amazed. Lucca grinned and looked on. Wait till you see me.
With surprising dexterity, Crono ran the length of the ice, glowing faintly white, and leapt into the air, just above Spekkio, while the sheets of ice crashed unto the marble floor and disappeared just as quickly as they had come. Seconds before landing on top of the small, furry, squirrel-like Master of War, Crono spread his arms outwards powerfully, and lightning exploded from his glowing body, spreading outwards like an explosion, engulfing a large part of the room. When the white light had subsided, Spekkio lay on his back, flailing his arms around like a turtle knocked over unto its shell. Crono smiled, sweating profusely, and fell unto his back on the floor.
"Well, kid, you're still as sharp as ever! Don't get me with one of those again, or I might lose my head!" Spekkio remarked. Getting up quickly, he slapped Crono on the back and led him to where the girls were sitting. Lucca was ready to get up, anxious to duel the legendary Master of War, but it seemed Marle had already beaten her to it.
The princess put on what Lucca called her "game face"; that is, an innocuous frown made only threatening by the Valkyrie crossbow Marle regularly carried at her side. The weapon hung from that same strap, but there would be no point in using it.
"So, kiddo, found you a husband yet?" Spekkio chimed tauntingly. Marle blushed and gave Crono a sideward glance; Lucca saw this and felt angered for a reason she didn't quite understand.
"No, not really." Marle answered simply. Spekkio laughed.
"I bet the boys are knocking at your door every day, huh?" The Master of War added, his fingers tinkling. Marle smiled and glowed faintly herself. Lucca scowled.
A flurry of flames tore towards Marle, billowing out from Spekkio's outstretched hand much in the manner of a flamethrower. With intense speed, Marle removed the Valkyrie from its holster, and gripped it firmly. The bolt notched inside the weapon froze almost instantly, and fired from the crossbow, whizzing past the slow flames of the most basic fire spell. Spekkio emitted an odd snort that hinted surprise, and prepared to dodge the frozen bolt in the same effortless way he dodged all physical attacks. The bolt exploded right in front of him before he could do so, however, and his vision was blurred just enough for Marle to conjure a subterreanean trail of ice that lurched under Spekkio's stubby pink feet and froze him in place.
"You're lucky I can't move, or I would walk over there and beat you down myself!" Spekkio shouted with a scream. Marle giggled and replaced her crossbow on its strap. Lucca noticed the burn marks on the Princess' arms and the burn fabric on her torso that revealed a good part of her stomach and waist. It seems Marle had allowed the fire to strike her directly so she could release a second spell fast enough and catch Spekkio. The princess' hand shone a pale green color, and when she touched it to her chest, the burn marks slowly receded and ceased to exist. Only the burnt cloth was evidence of any injury.
"Next!" Spekkio shouted as he unfroze his short legs. Lucca smirked and got to her feet. The excitement was enough to knock her out.
"Well, ready to get this show on the road?" Lucca said, her ordinarily purple eyes burning crimson already.
"Well well, aren't we hasty?" Spekkio said, laughing in an extremely high-pitched giggle. Lucca grinned, and fired a ball of fire towards the Master of War.
Spekkio countered with a ball of ice, and the resulting antipode sent wind all across the room. Lucca began blasting a flurry of spells, mostly Fire and Fire 2, in rapid succession. She even went as far as to chuck a number of grenades at Spekkio, the bomb ineffective because of Spekkio's apparent immunity to physical weapons.
"Going a bit overboard, aren't you?" Spekkio shouted. Lucca frowned in disdain. She was particularly vexed that none of her attacks were succeeding, and she would regret her next sentence.
"Give me all you got, shrimp." Lucca shouted back. Spekkio didn't laugh this time, and frowned instead. He shrugged and stared at Lucca from across the room.
"As long as you're ready for it." The Master of War answered.
Lucca felt the change almost instantly. The light that flooded the room slowly began to disappear, but the room remained visible nonetheless. It was the kind of visibility that came from darkness; the kind of light that only a moonless night could emit. The wind that used to sporadically whip across the room disappeared, replaced only by a myriad of stars on the space directly above the courtyard. Lucca had seen this at least two times, and she had not stayed conscious very long afterwards; it was Dark Matter, and it was terrifying, not because it was powerful, but because it embodied eternal darkness.
Lucca did the only thing she thought to do. Gathering all her strength, she propelled a massive jet of fire upwards, screamed out the word 'Flare', and triggered a massive explosion adjacent to the growing darkness; but as is the nature of Dark Matter, the fire was simply absorbed, and the darkness expanded. The center of the growing expanse shimmered as if on the point of detonation, and Lucca stared wide-eyed in terror. She willed herself to move, but her legs refused to respond.
"Lucca! A barrier! Use a barrier!" The princess' voice registered faintly, and Lucca only stood there, staring at the growing void. It exploded, and black wind filled the room, burning Lucca with more spite than a fire ever had, and she saw no more.
There you have it, Chapter 1. This one was actually much longer than my original Chap. 1 (which was only about 600 words).
Read and review, please. Also, note that Chapters 1, 2, and 3 will be released with 4-6 day delays in-between, but I'll post chapters 4-14 almost at once. Thanks for reading.