Another Step Onto Chronos

Chapter Two: I Can Go Home?

By: Shadic the Hedgehog

Disclaimer: Another thing that hasn't changed since the original fic: I don't own Chrono Trigger (unless one counts the SNES, PSX, and DS versions I have), but I do own myself. At least, I hope I own myself...

With another tearing noise, the other end of the Gate ripped open, dropping Crono and Joe onto the ground. Quickly, they stood up and took a look around, Joe fumbling with his shield for a moment in his haste to put it on. They stood in a rocky area, with some trees about, and only one obvious exit.

"Where do you think we are?" asked Crono.

Joe paused for a moment to think over his response, before replying, "I don't know. It looks like some kind of canyon, but I don't know much of canyons, so..."

There was a rustling sound as they talked and both of them stopped to glance around. After a few moments, nothing jumped out at them so they started to relax.

"I think we should leave. There's no telling what's around here."

"Right." And, true to expectations, just as they were about to leave the area, a trio of Blue Imps leapt out of the trees with a battle cry. As Crono dodged one, Joe placed his shield between himself and another, which didn't stop the last one from getting a hit in. Joe's right shoulder ached as he tugged the wooden blade from its sheathe, and he spun to attack the one that had hit him.

Crono was taking a couple of hits from his little opponent, just like Joe, but since his fight was one-on-one, he didn't take quite so much damage. Thankfully, the Imps hit little harder than Gato. As Crono finished his opponent, he glanced over to see Joe beset from both sides, and jumped over to help, bashing one of the Imps over the head with his wood katana from behind, allowing Joe to focus on one guy.

With only one opponent each, now, they easily overwhelmed the Imps and finished them off, the blue bodies fading away in a red light, leaving behind a bit of gold they had apparently been carrying around.

"Imps. We must be somewhere close to Medina," Crono decided, as Joe picked up the gold and put it in one of his pockets. "Mystics don't usually come to Zenan."

"Either way, there could be more waiting in the wings," Joe said, despite knowing that there wasn't. "We should get out of here before they show up and attack, too."

"Right." And with that, the two of them started out of the "unknown" canyon. But it wasn't long before the next encounter, with two more Blue Imps, who appeared being dropped off by a pair of blue birds. But as Joe drew his sword, Crono raised his hand, his sword already drawn.

"I'm gonna try something out." He leapt between the two Imps, who turned to face him as he started spinning, katana turned into the spin. As he whirled in circles, he cried out, "Cyclone!" After the Imps were shredded by the wooden sword, Crono leapt back to Joe's side, sheathing the katana as the Imps dissolved.

"Nicely done," Joe commented, collecting the gold from the ground where the Imps had stood.

"Yeah, but I'm pretty sure if I had tried that before, I would have splinters in my hands and I'd be falling down dizzy. It's just that something clicked after that first set of Imps, and I knew how to do that."

"Cool. I wonder if I'll learn something like that..." As he trailed off, Joe noticed a black box sitting behind where the Imps were. There were actually chests randomly sitting in the wilderness? Well, if monsters dropped gold, dungeons had to have chests.

Crono followed his gaze, then started for the chest. He opened it up and found a bottle inside. "Well, that's nice."

"What is it?" Sure, Joe had a good memory of the game, but the particulars near the beginning, like chest contents, tended to be a little fuzzy.

Crono undid the stopper and sniffed at the contents. "Kinda sweet smelling... I think it's a Tonic."

"Tonic, huh? That is nice." Crono placed the Tonic in the pouch by his side, and they continued on. Not far from there was another chest, this one containing a pair of gloves, that somehow felt a little stronger than a normal pair of gloves. As Crono had his bandanna, Joe opted to put them on, and he felt just a little more powerful.

Continuing past that chest, they came across a pair of Blue Imps kicking a Roly curled up in a ball between them. As the two of them attempted to go around, they gained the attention of the Imps, who immediately stopped kicking the Roly and turned to face the adventurers, the Roly unrolling to join them.

The battle was quick, as Crono simply used Cyclone to clear out the Imps, while Joe finished off the Roly with a quick downward slice that simply bludgeoned the Roly to death. As the three Mystics dissolved, they left behind three piles of gold and a bottle that Crono identified as another Tonic.

And Joe realized a way to concentrate... some kind of energy into his sword and shield that could deal a decent amount of damage to a single enemy. It was a simple attack: hit them with his shield to knock them off balance, then stab his sword into their most obvious weak spot. It seemed pretty effective. For something so simple, that is.

After the battle, the two left the canyon, coming out not far from a village that looked remarkably familiar to Crono. It was smaller, to be sure, not to mention the houses were an older style, but it was almost unmistakeably Truce.

"This... Can't be..." Crono muttered, before taking off for the archaic version of his home, surprising Joe, who quickly made to follow. They made their way into the town, where Crono was asking around about the Millennial Fair and the year.

It was quite the shock to Crono (and Joe tried his best to act shocked as well) to find that no one had heard of a "Millennial Fair" and that it was the year AD 600. Despite having gotten up in the morning that day, it was already nearly night fall, so the two newly-minted time travellers made their way to the site of the Inn/Cafe/Pub.

In Crono's time this particular building had been knocked down by an earthquake in the year 970, but here it was just as bustling as any village hub. Using some of Crono's allowance and the gold the monsters had dropped, they booked a room with two beds for the night.

As they prepared for bed (which was really only Joe taking his coat and gloves off, and both of them removing their weaponry), Crono asked an interesting question.

"Do you have any theories on why Marle wasn't at the exit point of that time-travel-rift-thing when we got there? I mean, we went after her only a couple minutes after she was brought back, didn't we?"

Joe jumped for a moment before answering, "Maybe the, uh, rift sent her back earlier than us? Considering the unstable look of the thing, it might have even sent her back later, too..." It was an interesting thought, and reminded Joe of a list he had found of strange things in Chrono Trigger. Like how there were robotic arms for sale in 65,000,000 BC and stuff like that.

"You have a point..." Crono tapped his chin, before curling up in bed. "I hope she wasn't killed by the Mystics, though."

"Don't think like that," Joe said. "She's gotta be okay." Crono murmured a hopeful-sounding reply before he drifted off, and Joe lay down to join him in slumber.

"Ooooohohohoho! Ooooohohohoho! Ooooohohohoho!" Joe's eyes snapped open as he grabbed his phone and flipped it open to turn off his 11:30 alarm of Shantotto's Noblewoman's Laugh. He sat up and rubbed his eyes before turning to his computer and opening it to turn off the music, which happened to be the AD 600 Overworld music from Chrono Trigger.

"...That was a weird dream..." he muttered to himself. Leaning forward, he grabbed his coat from in front of the open closet in his room and pulled out a small top-bound notebook and glanced at the numbers written on the page. "Good, I don't have to work today. Looks like I can just lay back and read for now. I should write more of, well, any number of my stories though..."

He sighed and got up, deciding to watch some TV as he read more fanfictions on his computer. Maybe then he'd get some inspiration. Hmm... Maybe he could write his dream into a fanfic. It might even come across as better than his original CT fic, too. Either way, his day was pretty well set to be simple, until he heard some knocking on the kitchen door. He peeked around the living room wall to see one of his best friends waving at him from outside. He waved back and the door opened.

"Hey, Aniki," Joe greeted. Despite using the informal Japanese word for "older brother," his friend Matt was neither his brother, nor older than him, having been born almost exactly a week later. Regardless, one could mistake them for brothers due to their similar hair styles. One of the big differences, however, was that Matt had a tendency to wear shorts and muscle shirts rather than the slacks and t-shirts Joe preferred, as well as a more varied colour-scheme to his wardrobe. Another was Matt's stockier, yet muscled, physique in comparison to Joe's average, but fat, body style.

"Yo," replied Matt. "I was bored and figure I'd come by for some sparring. Whaddya say?"

"Sure, I just finished making a new shield that's better fitted for my size than that one you broke earlier."

"Cool." After a moment to collect his wooden katana and the wooden shield he built himself, he joined Matt in the driveway. Matt had already gotten his out and was wielding it in one hand. At an unknown signal they both moved. Joe slashed at Matt's stomach, only for Matt to block it and swing himself. Joe blocked with his shield and made for a downward slice, but Matt danced back out of the way.

They went on like that for a while, though when one of them was hit on their hand, arm, or leg they would pretend that that particular bit had been cut off (including dropping their weapon if that arm was hit) and they'd continue. Despite the shield, Matt tended to win more often, but not without at least losing an arm and/or some fingers.

Then came a troublesome moment for Joe. Remembering the technique he learned in his "dream," he quickly moved in towards Matt and bashed him with his shield. As Matt reeled back from the surprisingly strong hit, Joe felt his arm become stronger as he went to stab at Matt's stomach.

As the sword moved forward, Joe noticed it had acquired a soft red glow and time seemed to slow as he realized what it meant. The tip of the wooden sword stopped less than half an inch from Matt's stomach before Joe dropped it, revealing a hole burned into Matt's shirt at the point where the dull point would have hit him.

"I..." Joe swallowed. "I think we're done for now..." He quickly turned back to the house, not even bothering to pick up his battered sword as he retreated from what he had almost done. Joe locked himself into his room as he attempted to calm down, though he could hear Matt walking slowly through the house behind him. After finally managing to calm down, Joe opened the door and began to explain what had just happened to one of his best-of-best friends, including where the attack had originated.

"So, do you think you'll be dreaming it again tonight?" Matt asked.

"I don't know. I rarely have continuations of dreams, but with how real it all felt, plus that Tech I almost used on you earlier..."

"Well, hey, if it isn't a dream, think you can bring me along?" Matt grinned cheekily.

Joe laughed lightly, "If I can figure out a way, I'll try. Don't expect too much, though."

"Yeah, sure. Well, if sparring is out for now, then how about we play a game or something?"

After setting up Joe's Playstation 2, they started playing a new game of Dokapon Kingdom, this time more for fun than for completing the game's checklist.

Upon reaching 10:30 pm, Matt had to leave. He had work in the morning, and needed to get some sleep. Joe waved him off and prepared himself for bed by re-reading some of his Chrono Trigger files.

"Right," he muttered to himself, "First things first. I'm going to do my best to be completely discreet and not reveal that I know what's going on, unless they act like I should." Not only did such things make for cliché fanfictions, it might make Crono and the gang suspicious. "Next, I should try and do research. If things are anything like my story, the world is bigger than the game shows, and there's probably a library somewhere I can visit."

After typing up the events of the dream and saving the file as a rewrite of his original fanfic, he turned out the lights and turned on his music. It may have only been 1:00 am, but he hoped he could get to sleep earlier than normal. He had to be in to work at noon...

Joe snapped awake at the sound of a rooster crowing almost right outside his window. Then he realized he was in a bed, and his window was on the other side of the room, not right over his head.

It had happened again. He had returned to Chrono Trigger. In silence, Joe prepared for the continued journey to Guardia Castle, which confused Crono.

"Joe, what's got you so down?" asked the spiky-haired teen. Joe blinked before giving a small smile and shaking his head.

"Just a strange dream, that's all." After strapping on their weaponry, the two made their way down the stairs to the pub area of the inn. As they entered, there was a great deal of commotion when a man in a suit of armour burst in through the door.

"The Queen! She's been found!" he cried. "Some of our men found her just last night while searching the canyon to the north, and have already escorted her back to the castle!"

There was some raucous cheering and a round of drinks were passed around in celebration. Overhearing some of the conversations, it seemed that the Queen had gone to the Cathedral a week prior, but had never returned. The "nuns" (for Joe knew them to be Mystics parading as such) claimed that she had indeed arrived to her destination, but they didn't know where she might have gone after leaving.

But what caught Crono's ear was the image of the Queen painted by the guard who had arrived with the good news. He said that she had been found looking rather lost and confused, with her royal gown seemingly stripped down to almost a pair of pyjamas, and her hair had fallen out of its normal style and into a simple ponytail.

"I think," said Crono, upon returning to Joe (who had been "drinking" the same mug of ale all morning), "that they have the wrong 'queen.'"

"Oh?" asked Joe.

"I think you were right about the wormhole. Marle appeared last night, after we did, and the guards who had been searching for the Queen have apparently mistaken her for royalty."

"Curiouser and curiouser..." muttered Joe. He handed his untouched beverage to a random waitress. "So, what do you think we should do?"

Crono looked at him incredulously. "We go get her, of course. Hopefully, once we explain that she's not the Queen, we'll be able to leave and just have to wait around here for Lucca to show up with our ride home."

"Sounds like a plan to me. Shall we?" And with that the two of them left for the Castle. Thankfully, the Castle was only half a day's journey away on foot, rather than the two Joe had once written into his story. This meant that not only would they reach the castle faster, they would even make it there without needing to sleep, putting off how long Joe had to be in to work when he woke up again.

A bit petty, yes, but he didn't much care for his job.

They made it through Guardia Forest without too much incident, only fighting off a couple of Rolys and Imps here and there, with Joe testing his Bash & Stab Tech on monsters. He was really glad he managed to stop himself from using it on Matt, considering how the tip of his still-wooden sword had gone all the way through the monsters he used it on.

Reaching the castle, the guards remained as belligerent as Chrono Trigger had portrayed them, refusing the two entry until "Queen Leene" told the guards to let Crono and Joe in. Before either of them could say anything to Marle, however, she giggled and walked away.

"Great, so should we just go up to the King and explain things to him?" asked Crono.

"I don't think it'll work out that well," said Joe, pointing to a painting hanging on a wall nearby. "Look. That's a portrait of the real Queen, and can you see any difference between Marle and her?"

Crono cocked his head to the side as he examined the piece of art. He frowned before replying. "Only one thing: there's a hair pin in this painting that Marle doesn't have."

"Yeah, so if we try and say 'she's not the Queen she just looks like her,' I have a feeling half the people in the castle will argue that she just lost her hair pin and is still traumatized or whatever from her ordeal."

"So what should we do?"

"Seek audience with the 'Queen' herself. After we explain things to Marle, we should be able to collaborate with her on some way to get us all back to Truce Canyon and then Lucca should be able to get all of us back to the future."

"Well, okay then."

It wasn't hard for the two of them to visit the Queen, as she apparently had lauded them as her saviours. This ruffled a few guardsmen's feathers, but they let it go for the Queen. They briefly introduced themselves to the King, who invited them to rest in the Knight's Quarters. Politely thanking the King for his generosity, the two adventurers instead headed for the Queen's Chambers.

After passing by the gossiping maids and being allowed entrance by a royal guardsman, Joe and Crono entered the room where their lost companion awaited them.

Not long after entering, "Leene" beckoned to them with her ornate fan, saying, in regal tones, "Come closer, good sirs."

"As you wish, Marle," Joe replied, stepping up right behind Crono, who was just across the table from her.

"Oh, pooh!" she stomped her foot. "And here I was hoping to have more fun with this before you realized it!"

"Since we came here looking for you, it's kinda hard to be fooled that way, don't you think?" pointed out Crono.

"I guess. But I can't believe these guys think I'm their Queen! How weird is that?"

"Considering you look almost exactly like her?" Joe stopped and contemplated that. Identical siblings? Happens quite often. Perfectly identical descendants? Not really. "...Yeah, pretty weird."

"Still, I knew you'd come for me, eventually." Though she could have said this to both of them, judging by who she was looking at, she really just thought Crono would have come for her himself. She then began walking around the table, approaching the pair (well, Crono, anyways. Joe just rolled his eyes). Suddenly, halfway there, she stopped, a cold sweat breaking out on her face.

"W-what?" She convulsed slightly, one hand grabbing the back of a chair while the other went around her stomach. "What's going on...?" She convulsed again, a sharp blue light sparking across her body. As the sparks began to travel across her more rapidly, Crono started to dive around the corner of the table, as if to grab her.

Joe, realizing he should seem more concerned, reached out a hand and let his face fall into a shocked look.

As Crono finally reached the now brightly glowing girl, she cried out "Crono help m-!" and seemed to shatter like a mirror, causing Crono to land bodily on the floor where she had stood.

Crono slowly picked himself up and whirled on Joe, charging forward all of two steps before almost picking him up bodily. "Where did she go?"

"How should I know?" hissed Joe, quickly attempting to formulate some kind of close-but-still-wrong theory. "Maybe this time-travel thing's like a rubber band and she just got snapped back to our time, or-or maybe something's interfered with her personal time-stream or something! I'm not exactly an expert on how time-travel works!"

Crono dropped his friend and sighed. "I guess you're right. But we were so close! We could have just-"

"Taken the Queen for a lovely midday stroll and disappeared with her? Oh, yes, that would make for a lovely chapter of the history books, wouldn't it?" Joe then face-palmed. "Shadows, how are we going to explain her just up and vanishing from her own chambers?"

"Sleeping pillow decoy."


Crono grinned hugely. "Sleeping pillow decoy. You know, set up a bunch of pillows to look like she's sleeping, then tell the guard that she asked not to be disturbed. And if he looks into the room, he'll see a formless mass under the covers."

"Brilliant!" The trick was easy enough to pull off, considering how many pillows lay at the head of that royal bed, and the guard seemed content with their brief explanation as to the brevity of their meeting (It helped that they took a couple small treasures to seem as though they were gifts of thanks).

They made their way down the stairs, almost flying (and tripping) once they were out of the guards' sight, and nearly crashed as Lucca appeared at the bottom of the stairs.

"Crono! Joe!" She gasped for breath. "Good, you're here, like I thought. ...Where's the girl?"

"Gone," replied a grim-faced Crono quietly.

"Gone! Whaddya mmph!" Joe quickly clamped a hand over Lucca's mouth.

"Shh! No one else knows! Let's talk about this outside, okay?" Lucca nodded, and they walked outside, Joe making sure to nod to each guard he passed as if nothing was wrong. He had long since mastered the art of looking truly nonchalant from all the times he played "spot what's missing" with his friends.

After leaving the castle, Joe and Crono explained the events that had them to almost bowling her over at the bottom of the stairs, including the Sleeping Pillow Decoy they had left behind.

"Okay, that should buy us some time, at least until someone decides to rouse her, but anyways, I have an explanation as to why she vanished. Joe's second theory was pretty close, actually."

After they glanced at Joe, he quickly raised an eyebrow, intending to look intruigued.

"As I'm sure you've gathered, we've gone back in time four hundred years, so things that can happen now can change our present in the future, and thereby affect us! I was suspicious when I first saw her, but her being mistaken for Queen Leene cinches it: that girl is our very own Princess Nadia!" Lucca grinned at the shock on Crono's face, as well as (attempted) contemplative look Joe was putting on.

"So, if she was found, instead of the Queen..." Joe muttered.

"Then the Queen is still in the hands of whoever had her before, and he may be preparing to kill her!"

Realization dawned in Crono's eyes. "And if her ancestor dies, she'll have never been born..."

"And therefore!" Lucca pointed at Joe dramatically.

"We're on a time limit to save the Queen," Joe pronounced. Lucca deflated slightly at the unexpected answer before looking at him quizzically.

"How do you mean?"

"One simple question: Why are we here and now?"

Crono looked at him strangely. "Because Marl-" His eyes widened noticeably.

"Precisely. If whatever kind of natural force erased Marle-slash-Nadia from existence, and she's why we're even here..."

"Then we may return to our time none the wiser as to the missing princess," Lucca finished.

Crono nodded grimly. "Then let's head to the Cathedral. During the party at the tavern this morning, I overheard someone mentioning how the Queen vanished there, if we start looking there, we may have enough time to rescue the real thing before we vanish, too!"

The three nodded to each other before setting off at a rapid pace for the Manolia Cathedral, barely making it before nightfall.

Unanimously deciding that there was no time to rest, they moved in and found the false nuns apparently praying as one of them played the organ. Quietly, Crono, Lucca, and Joe spread out around the sanctuary and searched for a clue of where the Queen may have disappeared to. As Crono and Lucca quietly interrogated the Naga-nuns, Joe walked up to the altar and bowed his head as if in prayer.

There! He thought triumphantly, before kneeling down and grabbing the Coral Hairpin. He turned back and waved to the others to get their attention.

"What did you find?" asked Lucca.

"It's a hairpin. And I'm pretty sure nuns aren't allowed any earthly possessions like this." Joe noted.

"Not just any hairpin, this one has Guardia's Royal Crest!"

There was a mass rustling of fabric and creaking of wood as the organ cut out. The trio glanced up to see the nuns move to surround them.

Joe slipped the Coral Hairpin into his pocket as he rested a hand on his sword, just in time for the nuns to burst into a magical blue fire that revealed their true forms.

The swarm of Nagas hissed as one and moved in for the attack, but Joe and Crono moved slightly faster than them, drawing their swords in time to cut one almost in half together, before Lucca got her wits about her and shot it in the head, dropping it. The battle was not quick, with at least ten more Nagas attacking them after that.

Fortunately, Lucca accidentally crossed her Flame Toss with Crono's Cyclone and the Fire Whirl managed to take out a good half the enemy party, while Joe was mostly concentrating on not dying behind his shield as he wounded several different Nagas with his Bash & Stab.

After what seemed to be a full hour later, the last of the attacking Nagas were gone, and Joe collapse to the floor. Crono sheathed his sword and began collecting the leftover gold and occasional item, as Lucca wiped the sweat from her brow.

"Phew! Was not expecting that."

There was a screech and a Naga burst out from under the altar, intent on slicing Lucca to ribbons. Joe, cursing in his head, attempted to stand, but was foiled in his mission when he slipped on his coat.

Just in time for a green blur to drop from the ceiling and slice the Naga in half.

"Let thy guard down, and thou art inviting thine enemy in," pronounced a wet voice, as the newcomer sheathed his sword. He turned towards the party, revealing himself as a giant frog-man (which is to say, that he stood all of three feet high). "Hast thou come to save the Queen as well? The fiends' lair lies within. Wouldst thou accompany me in my search?"

Lucca scrambled backwards, having fallen over when the Naga burst out from behind her, until she was mostly hidden behind the rising figure of Joe. "A-a frog! It's a giant, talking frog! Joe, squish it!"

"Aye, 'tis a common reaction," sighed Frog. "Very well, if my guise repulses thee so, I shall search on mine own."

"W-wait." Lucca peeked out from behind Joe's shoulder. "You, uh, You don't seem like such a bad per-, uh fro-, ah... Guy."

"Considering he saved you life, I should think not," Joe snarked. "I'm Joe, this is Lucca behind me, and Crono's over there, gathering our loot. Though, considering our time-limit, I'm not sure that's such a good plan!"

Crono, who had just finished gathering the fallen gold, scratched his neck sheepishly. "Sorry, natural reaction to gold on the ground. But yeah, you're right. We'd be glad to help you, mister...?"

"Thou may callest me Frog. Now, if thy companion hast recovered, we shan't tarry any longer."

"Any idea where we should be looking?" Joe asked.

"Aye, there be a secret passage behind that wall." Frog pointed to the wall opposite the organ. "The passcode is some tune to be played upon yon organ. Alas, I have no ear for music, and cannot recall the notes played."

They all gathered around the instrument, and looked for a clue there, which Lucca spotted after Joe picked up the score book to look in it. Crudely scratched into the wood was a small series of notes on a scale, obviously placed by some forgetful Mystic to keep from having to memorize the notes itself.

Joe set the book down and scanned the notes, before placing a finger on one of the keys. "First find 'A,'" he muttered. "Then..." Haltingly, he played the sequence of notes, which was immediately followed by a rumbling sound as the panel over the hidden door slid aside. Turning, Joe found Crono and Lucca staring at him oddly.

"I didn't realize you could play, Joe," Lucca said questioningly.

Joe paled slightly and rubbed the back of his head, "I just picked it up somewhere. You know how much I read, after all..." Oh please, let me be a bibliomaniac here, too...!

"I guess..." And with a last suspicious glance, they turned to the secret door, Joe almost collapsing in relief.

The trip into the Cathedral's secret area was relatively easy, the four of them slicing through any Mystics that got in their way, and Crono attempting to keep up as he "instinctively" picked up anything left behind from the fights.

Despite knowing that their goal lay in the far end of the Cathedral, Joe allowed himself to be led around by the others in search of the Queen. In so doing, they freed a pair of soldiers that would have wound up as a meal for the Mystics, found a new non-wooden sword for Crono and a metal sword and shield for Joe (but no Naga-ette Bromide, despite looking), and carefully tiptoed around the room with feasting Mystics inside.

The heart-stopper came from the room with the fake royalty within. Frog was pleasantly surprised, but a quick whisper from Joe reminded the knight that if the King and Queen were both back here, then just who was the King still in the castle looking for?

But, as they attempted to leave the room, the fake royals and their guards burst into blue flames, revealing them to be a small group of Gnashers in disguise. With their new swords, Crono and Joe managed to rip through their own opponents without much trouble, though Frog had to heal them up after.

Curious about the singing in the next room, Joe stuck his head in for a moment before deciding it would be better to leave them alone. No Queen there, after all. And the treasure could be gotten later. In a move unavailable to Chrono Trigger, the party bypassed a few battles by hopping over the railing near the door further in.

The next area, Joe was surprised to discover, held no Save Point, nor anything resembling such a thing, like the Safe Spheres he had written into his own version of this world. Regardless, they rested for a moment, drinking a couple of their Tonics and an Ether one of the Nagas had dropped in the outer sanctuary of the Cathedral. And while digging through her bag for a device she had been working on, Lucca came across a bag.

"Oh! I was wondering where I put these. Yo, Joe! I got 'em made for ya!" she tossed the bag to a startled Joe, who peered inside to find a small black sphere, with a wick sticking out of it.

"Cool, thanks!" said Joe, tying the bomb bag to his belt. He had no idea why she had made bombs for him, but now he had a bit of distance in case he had to fight on his own at some point. As they packed up from their rest, Lucca nodded at the progress she had put into her device this time and said, "Just one more thing to do, and I'll be able to test out my new hypnosis machine."

"So, no more sleepless nights?" Joe joked. She smacked him lightly on the shoulder.

"I designed it to not work on humans. The frequency of the hypnosis wave is too low to affect us." She glance at Frog. "Er, not sure how it might affect you, though. Never put a, uh, humanoid f-frog into consideration."

"No matter, lass. So far as I can tell, my senses are as thine." Frog nodded. Then seemed to reconsider. "Nay, for mine eyes are actually weaker than thy own, and my hearing muffled, but all else should be the same."

After a moment of silence following that proclamation, they set off again, with Joe nearly bruising his tail bone as the stairs suddenly became a slide beneath his feet.

"Gravity. She just doesn't like me," he grumbled, as the others slid down to join him on the bottom floor. With some light chuckles, so as not to wake the sleeping Hench, they set out to find the next door, and, after some exploration, a few battles, and a switch, they found themselves at another organ.

"...Does anyone remember what the notes were for this?" Joe asked, looking back at them.

Lucca rolled her eyes, "I swear, I have to remember everything. Be glad I was paying attention to your hands." And with that proclamation, she slowly played the notes that would unlock the next door.

Joe cocked his head sideways in contemplation. "Hmm, I wonder why they would have a second organ-based lock this far into their hideout? I highly doubt they actually expected someone to get this far, so why not just have it be a switch or just leave the door-"

"Hey, Joe, you coming, or what?" called Crono from the doorway.

"Oh, sorry!"

After a quick slice through the two rolling Henches that were heading their way down the narrow next corridor, they broke into the boss's room in the middle of his big threat.

"Prepare yourself for the void!"

"I don't think so." Joe interrupted.

"You! How did you get here?"

"Please," scoffed Crono. "Next time you want to post guards in your secret hideout, make sure they can take a hit from their own weapons." He drew his shiny new sword.

Frog followed suit with his own sword, "Flee, Majesty! We shall dispatch this fiend for you!"

The Queen quickly hurried out of the way as Chancellor Yakra walked around his desk.

"Pitiful beings, there's no use in fighting! You won't be leaving this place alive!"

Unlike the original and the DS remake, Yakra didn't say anything in particular to transform, nor did he start glowing and reveal himself to be a weird spineless hedgehog-thing. Instead he ripped off the skin he wore, and a monstrous thing replaced him at the head of the room.

It was during this fight that Crono revealed his new Wind Slash technique, and a new combo was instantly discovered with Joe's Bash & Stab, when he managed to bounced the ki/magic/whatever-laced waves of wind off his own reinforced shield. Later, it was decided that their new combo would be called the Reflect Slash.

Crono even managed to figure out how to do the X-Strike with Frog, despite the Wind Slash and Slurp Cut Techs being completely different from the end result.

Lucca's biggest contribution, to her annoyance, was tossing Tonics to the other fighters, only getting in a shot or two with all the other excitement.

Battered and bruised, the final blow of the battle was finally dealt when Yakra opened his mouth to roar and Joe hurled a bomb from his new bomb bag inside the gaping maw. There was a muffled boom as Yakra swelled and smoke came billowing out his nose and mouth. As the monster collapsed, there was a grinding sound as it disintegrated longer than any other Mystic, until it finally vanished, leaving behind more gold and some soot.

"Oh, look!" Joe exclaimed, pointing. "Treasure!" He moved for the right-hand chest as Lucca snickered and headed for the left. After fiddling with the chest a bit, Lucca presented Frog with a shiny new broadsword, while Joe was (not) surprised to find a Chancellor in his chest.

Soon after, they rendezvoused with the Queen and all made for the exit. Unlike the story he had written, however, they were forced to fight the remaining Mystics on the way out, though a couple fled upon discovering their boss was killed.

The trek back to Guardia Castle was just as uneventful, save for Joe marvelling silently at the sheer number of stars in the sky. I really gotta visit that dark zone back home, he thought, curious to see what his own world's sky would look like free of human lights. They reached the castle at dawn.

The King was as grateful as he could be to have his wife back, though he was also mildly confused and brought up Marle instead of the Queen, especially since it seems that she had disappeared from the castle herself.

"Don't worry, Your Majesty," Joe replied, "she does this quite often. Eh, disappear, that is. We'll be able to find her, no problem."

"Oh, so you know her?" he answered.

"Yes," added Crono. "In fact, it was she that we originally came here to Guardia to find, but she asked us to find the Queen here before she would leave, and thusly we left."

"We see. Well, before we ask you to find your friend, we have a gift for you." The King stood, and picked up a plain-looking sword at his side. "Kneel. As King Guardia XXI, we dub thee Sir Joseph, Sir Crono, and Dame Lucca. May you be known throughout our Kingdom as heroes all."

"Thank you, Your Majesty." And so they left for the Queen's Chambers to retrieve their time-lost Princess. After Marle's description of what Joe realized could only be the Darkness Beyond Time, and Lucca's bombshell revelation of her royalty, they left, returning to Truce Canyon.

"So, Lucca, how are we getting home?" asked Marle.

"Well, Your Highness-" Lucca started.

"Please don't. I prefer Marle, please?"

"Okay, Marle, observe!" And she whipped out a strange rod with a sphere on top that looked to Joe like a plasma globe, bits of lightning-y stuff constantly moving beneath the glass. Lucca then pointed it at the center of the clearing and pushed a button on the side, causing it to shoot lightning at the floating dark circle where the Time Gate resided, dormant, and opened it up.

"Hey, it doesn't look like a tear anymore!" Joe exclaimed. Instead of the rip-like appearance it had when they first went through, it had formed into a mostly perfect spheroid, with strange blue lights shimmering inside.

"Yep! Before, the distortion, or 'Gate' as I call it, was incredibly unstable, as Joe figured out. So with the help of my new Gate Key, I managed to stabilize the wormhole, allowing it to function as a one-to-one portal between the same place in two time periods. This one leads to our home time, while the other end would lead back here!"

"Cool," commented Crono. "But how about we go home?" he yawned hugely.

"Sounds good to me, too," said Joe, chuckling.

"Spoilsports," muttered Lucca. "But, alright. We just need to step inside and we'll be off."

As one, the group stepped into the Time Gate, Joe shivering as he felt the eldritch energies of raw time around him bending and shifting. As the Gate closed, there was a ripping noise, not unlike the first couple times it had opened, though not the latest time, and Joe found himself hurled backward as though he had been punched in the gut.

And when they all landed, they found themselves staring into a strange grey abyss, kept at bay by thick brick walls.

"Lucca, I think something's gone wrong," Joe said slowly. We're not supposed to be at the End of Time, for one!

A/N: There, chapter two. With more evidence as to how things are different, and a minor slip-up from the Self-Insert, revealing knowledge the him of Chronos wouldn't know. As I said in the previous author's notes, a lot of things have been changed from the first story. One of the first of which was the abolishment of the expanded Conservation of Time Theorem.

And there's a lack of scene changes between the two worlds as Joe wakes for a reason: the instant he falls asleep in one world, he's waking up in the other, with no transition in-between.

Well, time to work on either Chapter 3, or on The Rift-Torn's Chapter 5, or on Crossing Chronos' Chapter 2, or...