A/N: Ok, welcome to my first Chrono Crusade fanfic! There's not much to say except that it's an AU story. I'm not entirely sure of where it's going to go, but I'll try to make it interesting. Also, the title is a working one.
This story was inspired after finishing The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson series). I just started typing on it with the idea of "what if the Magdalan Order was a summer camp that trained kids to fight demons?" Anyway, enough rambling. Enjoy Chapter One!
Disclaimer: I do not own Chrono Crusade nor do I make any money from writing this story.
~Why I Hate US History~
I had to be the only kid on the planet who was not looking forward to summer vacation. I barely held back another frustrated groan as I watched the fancy New York skyscrapers pass in a blur. In another five minutes or so my doomed fate would be sealed and all hope would be lost. Great.
"It'll be all right dear," my mom said, "I'm sure you'll have lots of fun."
"At summer school, Mom?" I retorted, turning to stare like she had just grown a second head.
Either she was trying to cheer me up or she was just teasing me. Knowing her, it was the latter especially since she was already fighting back a smile, her ruby eyes (same as mine) twinkling mischievously.
"Ok, so you probably won't have fun, but look at it this way: if you don't go, you'll just have to repeat US History."
There was no arguing with that so I kept my mouth shut and leaned back in my seat, sort of seeing my reflection in the window. My short, purple hair was tousled from having slept through my alarm clock, hoping that when I woke up I'd be in my room and faced with another summer of working at the antique store down the street. In the meantime, Mr. Carlson would call in everyday to complain that the rent was late. My mom always paid the rent on time, but he complained anyway just to be a pain in the—
"Chrono!" Mom's voice brought me back into reality and I realized that I had been thinking out loud. Oops.
"Sorry," I grumbled, "but can't we just turn around and forget this whole thing? Maybe we could talk to Mr. Remington and figure something else out. Anything else."
I didn't want to whine and I hated hearing other people do it, but I didn't want to go to summer school even more. And desperate times called for desperate measures.
Mom shook her head. "I would love to do that for you, dear, but perhaps this is the will of Fate"—Instinctively, I tuned out the rest of her "will of Fate" speech. Sorry, but I've heard it so many times I've got it memorized.
See, my mom's a fortuneteller (well, part-time anyway). She's even ranked at number seven on New York City's list of Ten Most Recognized Fortunetellers You Absolutely Must Visit. Many of her customers give her a three out of four stars rating along with a quick one-liner review. For example: This lady iz awesum yo! Not only that, but she really believes in whatever powers have been bestowed upon her.
I'll admit that I had always been impressed with how accurate her predictions were to the point that I'd wanted to take over the family business…when I was twelve. I'm fifteen now and I have no idea as to what I want to do with my life; running the little shop that was just below our equally small apartment flat, however, had been crossed off my list way before freshmen orientation.
"—besides, I really think that Mr. Remington is trying to do what's best for you," I heard her finish.
I almost laughed. Mr. Remington wanted to help me by imprisoning me in his classroom for the next two and a half months—that was definitely one I hadn't heard before. Don't get me wrong, out of all my other teachers, he was my favorite and his classes had never put me to sleep. But summer school?
As if on cue, Grand Central High slowly crept up on us from ahead. At first glance, it looked like any respectable public school, standing proud in all its red-brick glory with the American flag flapping gallantly in the wind. But spend a whole year here as a freshmen and pretty soon you'll see the darkened skies crackle with ominous thunder over it, even in June. All it needed was a surrounding barbed fence and a guillotine somewhere in the parking lot and it would make the perfect prison for juveniles who flunked US History.
We pulled up to the entrance.
"I'll be back to pick you up at two," my mom told me.
"All right, I'll see you later," I said, adjusting my backpack onto my shoulder.
I watched her drive off before turning around to head through the glass double doors. I only had to survive for five hours—my day couldn't get much worse than that. Thinking back, I almost want to laugh at how wrong I'd been.
About five minutes later, I was unloading my textbook and pens onto my usual desk in Classroom 115A. I glanced around and saw three other kids who all looked just as happy as I was to be here. Excitement practically radiated off of Clay Moore as he snored away in the far back, completely oblivious to the disgusted looks the other two girls were shooting at him.
Mr. Remington hadn't arrived yet, which was strange because he was practically obsessed with punctuality and was always waiting in the classroom with the door open. Aside from flunking nearly every test, my constant late arrivals had also killed my grade since Mr. Remington liked to take off points for every tardy slip he managed to collect from me. I could see his point, I guess, about showing respect by arriving on time, but that didn't mean I had to like it.
Stepping into the classroom wasn't Mr. Remington, but my friend Azmaria. Having recently transferred here from some prep school in upstate New York, we became lunch buddies not long after her first day. Before that though, I was sure there were days I'd catch her staring at me in some of our classes. She must've been some kind of child genius because she had yet to show any signs of puberty, but was already taking Pre-Calculus. She was also an albino with silvery lavender hair and pinkish eyes that easily welled up with tears whenever the other kids decided to make themselves feel better by picking on her.
Azmaria beamed at me brightly as though she couldn't think of a better way to spend her summer break. I couldn't help but smile back. I then shot a dark look at the two other girls, daring them to say something. They took the hint and settled on silently leering at her.
"What are you doing here?" I asked her. "You didn't have US History this year, right?"
Either it was my imagination or she seemed to hesitate in her answer, but she quickly recovered with a nervous laugh.
"Oh no. I'm, uh, actually here to ask Mr. Fuller about taking Calculus next year," she stammered. "Y'know, my dad and mom always want me to take the top classes."
I quirked an eyebrow at her. "Um, Az…Mr. Fuller teaches PE."
That seemed to make her even more nervous and she started rambling on about taking too many courses and getting the teaching staff all mixed up. But I knew she was lying. Before I could call her on it though, another voice cut me off.
"You! You're not on my list of students!" We both looked to the front of the classroom and saw a scrawny man in a stiff brown suit glaring at us with his beady eyes. It wasn't Mr. Remington.
"Um, who are you?" I dared to ask.
Maybe it was the dumbfounded look on my face that seemed to irritate him further. His cropped brown hair bristled like the fur of an angry cat.
"I'm your substitute for today," he snapped.
"Where's Mr. Remington?" Azmaria asked sharply.
I wouldn't have been surprised if my eyes had jumped out of their sockets as I turned to stare at her. In the short time I've known her, I never once heard her use that kind of tone on anyone, let alone a teacher. She took no notice as she watched the substitute warily—like she expected him to go psycho on us at any second. Judging by the sudden creepy smirk that tugged at his lips, he probably was.
"Mr. Remington won't be making it today," the man said slowly, "he had some important errands to run. My name is Mr. Bedford and I will be taking his place. Seats, now."
The other two girls and I did as we were told and watched in tense silence as he slowly advanced towards Azmaria. I could see her knees trembling slightly, but she didn't move. I ignored the part of me that wondered if she was scared of him.
"You, young lady," Mr. Bedford said, stopping only a few feet away. "You are not in this class. Leave now or I will call the front office."
Azmaria swallowed, gave me one last look, and then carefully walked past him to go into the hallway. I could only stare at the now-closed door even as Mr. Bedford ordered us to turn to Chapter Seven of our textbooks. I don't know why, but I couldn't shake the expression that had been on her face from my mind. It was like she was afraid of leaving me behind. Afraid that something bad was going to happen.
Maybe Azmaria had been worried that I'd die of boredom. Because that's exactly what was happening to me right now. It was a slow and painful death prolonged only by the deafening ticking of the clock hanging up on the wall right beside me. It took everything I had not to look at it.
Mr. Bedford was monotonous to the point that his voice became white noise to me as I doodled in my notebook. He was the complete opposite of Mr. Remington, which made me wonder why he'd been chosen to be our substitute. Mr. Remington always tried to make sure we had a fun but decent teacher on the days he was out. Just when the torture seemed like it would never end, Mr. Bedford finally said something interesting:
"Ten minute break."
I practically jumped over my desk and dashed into the empty hallway. The muffled voices of the other few teachers here bounced off the walls as they gave their lectures. I turned a corner, fishing around in my jean pocket for enough change that would get me a Snickers and a can of orange soda. The vending and soda machines were crammed together in a small space just in front of the entrance to the weight lifting room. Azmaria was standing front of them, talking in a low voice.
"I'm certain of it…the way his eyes were"—I took a few steps back and pressed myself against the wall. I know, I know, it's impolite to eavesdrop. But from the way she was acting earlier I knew she was hiding something.
Her back was to me and her long hair covered up her face, but I could only assume that she was talking on her cell phone.
"I forgot to bring them. I'm sorry, but since there had been no real disturbances the whole year, I didn't think that—yes, all right. Please hurry, sir. I don't know how much longer its skin will stay on." Then she hung up. I waited for a second and then came out from hiding.
If I hadn't been busy trying to figure out what was worrying her so much, I would've laughed at the look on her face as she jumped back.
"Ch-Chrono!" she squeaked. "Wh-what are you—how long—"
"Have I been here?" I finished for her, knowing that when she was scared, she'd stammer to the point of rambling.
Her face went beet red as her expression continued to fall. What was she getting so worked up over?
I shrugged. "I just got here. Came to get a soda," I said.
She relaxed and gave me a weak smile before turning to the soda machine.
"Me too," she said in a high voice, haphazardly pulling out some loose change.
I watched her quickly shove one coin into the machine after another. She hadn't even noticed that she'd already put in a whole dollar more than what it charged.
I didn't understand anything I'd just heard. All I knew was that it made Azmaria even more jumpy than usual. Whatever it was, she didn't want me to know about it.
"Chrono?" She turned around to face me with a Coke in her hands and her expression suddenly serious. Again she surprised me; I'd never seen her look like this before.
She took a deep breath. "Tell me…did you get any…y'know, vibes from Mr. Bedford?"
That definitely caught me off guard and I first thought she was joking, but when her expression didn't change, I wish she had been.
"What does that have to do with anything?" I asked her.
"Because…it's important," she answered.
If it was possible, I was even more confused than before. What did my vibes have to do with anything? Like I said, when I was twelve I wanted to take over the shop for my mom, so I tried my hand at reading tarot cards, checking my horoscope everyday, and interpreting my dreams. Typical stuff. Somehow from doing all of that, I developed a sort of sixth sense. There were times I would get vibes either from people I met or just after waking up in the morning. They usually let me know whether to steer clear of a person or if I was in for a good or bad day.
"You know it doesn't work like that," I said finally. "It's not something I can do whenever I feel like it. Well, actually…it's when I feel something strongly, that I get them. Make sense?"
"Er…no, not really."
I wasn't surprised. But still, Azmaria was a lot more understanding than the other kids, who assumed most of the time that I specialized in summoning zombies and spent my afternoons staring into crystal balls. Whenever I tried to explain it to someone, he or she would always say: "If you can see into the future, can you give me the answers to tomorrow's test?"
"Look," I began, "break's almost over. I gotta go."
"Wait, Chrono." Azmaria grabbed my arm. "If you can, try to get a vibe from Mr. Bedford and…be careful."
I downed the last of my orange soda and slumped into my chair. The other students were still at their desks and waiting for Mr. Bedford to finish adjusting his shirt cuffs. Before long, he picked up where he left off in his lecture while scribbling on the white board. I stared at his back, trying to concentrate. To be honest, I felt kind of stupid since I had never done this before. Usually my vibes just sort of…happened. Nonetheless, I found myself trying to get some kind of feeling from him.
"Mr. Furey," said Mr. Bedford, "perhaps you can provide me with an answer."
I snapped out of my daze and looked around. No one else was paying attention to me, only staring at the board with fake interest. Then my gaze fell on Mr. Bedford, who was looking right at me. As soon as our eyes met, I felt a sick twist in my stomach. It was like I was hungry, but at the same time knowing I would throw up if I did eat anything. I froze. I had never gotten a vibe this strong or this negative from anyone before. Not even the kids who picked on Azmaria felt this rotten. My breath must've caught in my throat, because I nearly choked on my next words.
Mr. Bedford didn't once take his eyes off of me. "Answer my question, Mr. Furey. How long did you think you could hide from us?"
I didn't know what he was talking about. All I knew was that my brain was telling me to get out of there. I could picture my legs taking me out of the classroom and down the hallway, but in reality, I stayed where I was. I couldn't move or breathe.
Then Mr. Bedford's eyes began to glow like laser pointers. Rows of jagged teeth stretched his evil smile even further as claws shot out of his fingers. Like wind was blowing against him, his suit fanned open and became a pair of slick wings. His skin blackened and a small, drill-like horn shot to the top of his head.
Things only got stranger after that.
Mr. Remington suddenly burst into the classroom, wielding what looked like a flattened lightsaber. He had an intense look in his blue eyes that I'd never seen before and I was glad that it wasn't me on the receiving end of it. In one swift movement, he swung his weapon and slashed at Mr. Bedford's eyes. Mr. Bedford howled in pain as he crashed into the desk, splintering it into hundreds of pieces.
"Chrono, get out of here!" Mr. Remington shouted.
That snapped me out of whatever trance I'd been in just in time to see Mr. Bedford fly right at me, a deadly glint in his bleeding eyes.
I dove to the floor—his claws slicing through the air where my head had been—and underneath the nearest desk. As he stood next to Clay Moore, he madly looked from left to right. I then realized that Clay hadn't moved a muscle since the beginning of class. A strong hand grabbed my arm and yanked me to my feet.
"I won't tell you again, Chrono! Go now!" barked Mr. Remington. He readied himself as Mr. Bedford spun towards us.
"What about the others? What's wrong with them?" I cried, my legs feeling like mush.
"It's too late! He's already consumed their souls! Hurry up and go!"
Another hand grabbed me and pulled me back just as Mr. Bedford charged again. In my last glimpse of the classroom, I saw Mr. Remington knock him back into the wall. Before I knew what was happening, I was running down the hallway next to Azmaria. Teachers and students started pouring out of the classrooms with worried expressions.
"What's going on, Az?" I yelled, not caring who heard me.
"I'll explain everything, but we have to get out of here first!" she replied.
A loud, hollow roar echoed from behind. I stole a glance over my shoulder and saw Mr. Bedford closing in on us in a blind fury, frantic screams erupting in his wake. I don't really remember what happened next, but as he reared his claws back for a final strike, Azmaria must've grabbed me again to head down the stairs. My foot slipped and the next thing I knew, colors were exploding in front of me before I finally landed flat on my back at the bottom of the stairs.
My vision swam as though my eyes were playing on a teeter-totter and Azmaria suddenly gained ten new mouths, all of which were calling my name. I wanted to warn her that Mr. Bedford was right behind her, but I couldn't focus on anything other than the sharp pain piercing through my skull. Just when Mr. Bedford was about to slice right through her, Mr. Remington appeared and swung his lightsaber in a downward strike, going through him in one clean cut.
Mr. Bedford disappeared in a single poof. With a dying howl, he exploded into a collection of black wisp that hung in the air like a dangerous threat.
Then everything went black.
A/N: And that concludes the first chapter! I hoped you liked it. Don't worry, Rosette and the others will show up soon enough. Feedback is always appreciated. Thanks!