Hey ya all again. As per the title, this is Chapter 6. YAAAHHH. I've still got a backload of chapter so i can update once a week for at least a while bit longer. Hopefully you enjoy the story thus far, not sure since no one reviews but alas tiss a small problem indeed. Again I don't own any of the characters except my own(Lana, Fnorm, Zack, etc). I still hate the formating that ends up replacing my formatting in word whenever I submit a document here, tiss evil I till you! Small gripes aside, enjoy the newest chapter.
Chapter 6: The Plot Thickens
It was the normal mid-day rush when Janus walked angrily through the swinging doors at the entrance to “The Bar at the End of Time”. Patrons glared his way and thin veils of smoke obscured his view, but still the fuming warlock quickly found his intended target. Gaspar, after all, was always behind his bar and winced at the might of Janus’ glare as the warlock plowed through the room.
The disheveled ex-prince of Zeal, his appearance resembling what might be left of a person after being sent through a garbage disposal, seemed in no mood to make talk. The inner fire in his eyes, born from both anger and pain, would have illuminated the bar if the lights were turned off.
“We have a problem,” icily stated Janus “And you are going to help me solve it.” With that the warlock snapped his fingers and Gaspar found himself floating alongside Janus. Before the confused bar-tender could comprehend the fact that Janus was back long before the month of his training was over; they were already out of the door and moving further away from his bastion of security.
Looking back and forth to one another, the patrons all agreed that perhaps it was best that Janus had taken Gaspar with him. After all, who wanted an angry emotional warlock throwing spells while you tried to drink?
Spekkio, coming in from the back entrance, was quickly elected the new bar-tender despite his protests.
“Janus,” called Gaspar as the two traveled quickly down the already quickly moving walkway “Mind telling me what this is about?”
Janus clenched his fists tighter, almost enough to draw blood, and his voice was full of too many emotions for Gaspar to count, but betrayal seemed the overwhelming tone. “I am only going to ask you this once,” stated Janus, the two were slowly given wide berth down the walkway as other patrons noticed the odd pair. “How much do you know about the Black Wind?”
“As much as you know.” responded Gaspar, Janus turned to scowl at the floating bar-tender and Gaspar made quick assurances. “I swear, no more and no less.”
“Then we are both in the dark.” replied Janus as his temper went from blazing to simmering. Since it seemed Gaspar wasn’t hiding anything from Janus he had less reason to be outright angry, not as if that had stopped him before, but he needed to think clearly without the melodramatics. Lana could hear the black wind and time-be-damned there was someone on this station that knew why. Belthasar better have more answers than Gaspar did. The two switched walkways, now going down the operations wing, as Janus set his course for the only other Zealian guru on the station. “Me, you, and Belthasar are going to have a little chat.”
“Janus, can you at lest tell me what’s happened? Why are you back so soon? Where is Lana?” At the mention of Lana’s name Janus simply shook his head, as if waving away a bad memory, before responding. There was something about her, something that managed to scare even Janus.
“I don’t know how, but while we were in the bio-dome a gate appeared and swallowed her up.” Janus simply explained as if talking about the weather.
“A gate?” Gaspar asked with disbelief, “Now that Lavos is dead the gates shouldn’t exist.”
“Not just any gate old man, it was red.”
Someone was outside,Geon knew immediately as her instincts and magical senses flared when the being entered her magical perimeter. Unlike humans Geon’s senses extended far into the magical plane but it was as natural to her as a human having the normal five senses. The magical web of awareness, along with her extra-sensitive normal senses, made Geon near impossible to surprise.
Frog moaned softly as Geon finished twisting his arm in a rather un-natural way, but she did not register the sound. All thoughts were discarded, pushed down by instincts, and her sense of perception seemed to flow out everywhere. Suddenly she was in the grass, in the trees, in the air; smelling the small breeze that wafted down from the bushy entrance of frog’s home, feeling the vibration in the earth as her prey approached, felt it’s presence in the magical web.
It was female, not quite human and not quite mystic; a half-breed. Judging by the smells she’d been without bath for several days. The tangy smell of sharpened steel indicated a blade or weapon, and, the almost non-existent vibrations signaled she was lightly armed and armored. Geon’s magical web thoroughly scanned the girl for any magical property or magical items; fortunately it seemed her prey lacked both.
The target was sighted, measured, and found lacking. Nevertheless, a cruel smile crept onto the hunters face.The hunt was on once again.
“Ok Janus, mind telling us the whole story?” Gaspar asked as he still floated in the air. Belthasar sat calmly in his wooden rocker; his robotic Nu standing at his side just in case Janus’ anger exploded outwards. All three were in Belthasar’s room, Janus pacing about back and forth, expending his angry energy in his pacing, while Gaspar floated, confused, next to Belthasar, who was also confused.
“Yes Janus, please enlighten us as to why you are in such a foul mood.” calmly said Belthasar, unafraid of the warlocks temper or glare. Janus and Belthasar didn’t see eye to eye on many things, or anything, and in the early days of his recruitment they would violently argue with one another. He’d gotten use to Janus’ always dark mood and his constant glares; far worse looks originated from the Queen during the last days of Zeal. “Just start from the beginning; things are always clearer when the whole picture is in view.”
Janus stopped his pacing and looked to both of his long time acquaintances. He was still angry, no doubt about that, but as Magus he’d learned turned his anger from a blinding influence into something he could use to focus. Now was the time to focus. He was Janus after all, unmoving and calculating, and not weak enough to let his emotions get the better of him.
“Very well,” he conceded “After I heard of my assigned student I decided to train her for a few weeks in survival skills. I took her to the bio-dome and we set off from the entrance three days ago. In addition to her survival training I also wanted to test the aura reading ability she has, I take it both of you have heard of it?”
Gaspar and Belthasar both nodded, only Belthasar spoke up “We thought it was a passive ability, not something that could be turned on and off at will, but I didn’t think it merited any further inquisitions.”
“Is that so?” Janus asked, “Then I take it you didn’t look at her records very carefully. I have, and it leaves some questions to be answered. It has a lot of holes; no list of parents, home, ethnicity, siblings, or even an age. There are too many holes and questions for one person to have and still receive enrollment here, unless someone higher up decides to keep the information hidden.” His glare landed directly on Belthasar and asked the question that he didn’t verbally put forth,“What are you hiding?”
“It’s true that I took certain precautions when she came to the station, we wanted her to fit in and not have her heritage questioned,” calmly explained Belthasar “After all she comes from a mystic mother and a human father, a half-breed to put it in laymen terms.”
“Why keep it a secret?” asked Gaspar.
“Ten years ago both of her parent’s were killed in a house-fire; only she survived by an unknown miracle. Investigation later found that an anti-mystic group had been tipped off that Lana’s mother was a mystic and so they burned down the house and the whole family with it. I didn’t want violence between personnel on this station and so I’ve kept it a secret to protect her. If she ever discovered why her parents died it would be no end of trouble for us.”
“That explains a few things but how many other things are you not telling us!” accused Janus.
“That is all I know,” truthfully told Belthasar “Her ability wasn’t that strange, granted I’ve yet to see too many aura readers, but I figured her powers would either grow as she did or stay the same. Either way we’d be there to help and learn if needed.”
“I see,” said Janus “Sit back and wait. Sounds very much like you.” Gaspar gave a curt cough to signal the continuation of the story before yet another argument interrupted it. Janus apparently agreed and paused to gather his bearing.
“Later that night she awoke complaining about a strange feeling, as if someone was crying out to her for help. It was the same thing that I’ve been able to feel, the Black Wind, and outside of Zeal I’ve never seen anyone with the ability.” further explained Janus.
“The Black Wind,” reverently echoed Belthasar.
“How is that possible?” Gaspar asked.
“That is what I’d like to know,” responded Janus “It seems that there is more to the Black Wind that I’d thought. In any case just this past night Lana was taken away by a red time-gate, appearing as I was coming back to the campsite from hunting. It seemed like she was expecting it and had taken some of the weapons I’d brought with us. She was standing patiently when it suddenly appeared and casually walked into it and waved to me before vanishing.”
“Impossible,” said Belthasar “The gates vanished when Lavos was defeated.”
“I saw what I saw,” growled Janus. “You don’t even know what created the gates in the first place so I wouldn’t go jumping to conclusions that they vanished just because Lavos is gone.”
“So you think she created the gate?” Gaspar asked with a bit of skepticism in his voice. “Come now Janus, that sounds absurd.”
“No, I don’t think she created the gate,” said Janus harshly. “I think that perhaps IT is using her to fix whatever problem caused the Black Wind.”
Belthasar growled and threw his hands up in anger. “Don’t go on again about your half-cocked theory of an entity causing the gates to appear. It was just a side-effect of Lavos and nothing more.” harshly spoke Belthasar. “There is no god or higher being controlling the time stream and correcting what IT decides are mistakes, such an absurdity being spoken by you still surprises me. You of all people, Janus, should know the world is made by mortal choices, not the whims of a god.”
“But baring that,” intruded Gaspar before the two became embroiled in their passionate argument. “Perhaps there is something going on back in the past that affects the time stream in a larger way; if you’ve heard the black wind howl it is probably for a good reason. I’ve heard rumors of a very important person in history being killed and we still haven’t fixed it yet. Perhaps, if it is possible, Belthasar can tell us more.”
The aged guru sighed and shrugged, admitting defeat, before explaining. “A few days ago Glenn, known as Frog to you Janus, was killed by an unknown attacker five years before he is able to join with Chrono’s group and ultimately throw the lot of you back in time. Suffice to say the end results are disastrous, Lavos still destroys the world in 1999 A.D, Queen Leene is never rescued thus Marle is never born and Chrono never meets her. No one ever goes forward in time to discover Lavos in the future and so Lavos wins.”
“Why would someone do such a thing?” asked Gaspar. “Having the world destroyed seems bad news for humans and mystics alike.”
“I don’t think whoever did this planned that far ahead, or had enough knowledge to plan that far ahead. They are probably quite clueless about Lavos and the rest of the timeline actually.” Belthasar explained with a humorless and serious voice.
“Frog manages to get himself killed without my help,” scoffed Janus from the corner he’d taken up in the room. “As much as I dislike his company, it seems that IT has managed to drag me into helping again.”
“That is out of the question, you will do nothing of the sort!” roughly commanded Belthasar. “The council will decide the course of action, not you. This station was built for things exactly like this, and we will do our job.” he argued further.
“I have no doubts that Lana was taken back to the same time period, probably in an attempt to save the frog. In any case I have a student to retrieve along with a frog to save,” icily stated Janus “You will find no one better for the job, and your disapproval won’t stop me.”
“Is that a threat?” Belthasar stammered out almost in disbelief before regaining composure. “I would certainly hope not, I do not want you as an enemy. Make no mistake; any unauthorized time travel on your part will be treated just like any other case. Neither of us wants to fight the other, so let the station handle this, and I promise that Lana will be returned just as she left.”
“Hmrph,” laughed Janus. “The girl is of no concern to me, but her ability on the other hand… THAT I do wish to study.” Several second of silence passed while Belthasar and Gaspar awaited Janus’ decision tensely. “Very well,” agreed Janus “Just return to me my student.”
“Excellent,” clapped Belthasar “Very good decision. Is there anything else you’ve to tell, maybe something that might help us?”
“There’s nothing more!” tersely said Janus; hiding the fact that she could copy his memories into her own, the fact that she’d seen into his most treasured of moments, and the fact that now someone else knew his true origin.
“I will return later and I expect to know of any progress,” Janus informed Belthasar as he strode from the room, not even waiting for an answer. Gaspar also floated after him, waving a hurried goodbye to Belthasar as he continued to follow Janus to whatever destination was next on his list.
Neither could see Belthasar chuckle to himself at the irony of it all. Soon his team that he’d sent back would encounter Glen’s killer. Now it seemed they would probably meet Lana along the way as well. If they didn’t kill her then something else probably would; either way things didn’t seem well for Janus’ student.
“He’ll forget all about it though once he sees what I’ve been planning,” said Belthasar quietly to himself “In fact I bet he’ll even want to join in. I’ll give him his long awaited chance to save his sister, and at the same time save Zeal.”Then he smiled and laughed aloud, delighted by his own schemes.
Unnoticed as it stumbled back to its’ corner, the mechanical Nu grimaced slightly before quickly resuming an expressionless face.
Zack, and his team, approaching the scene carefully, scanned the setting with their examining eyes. Blood was splattered about the small clearing and the disturbed and destroyed foliage told of a great struggle that had taken place here. The sun, as it began retreating behind the horizon, cast the scene in a yellow-orange hue. The small insects swarmed about the bushes and trees, highlighted by the sinking suns rays, and the forest seemed peaceful.Howlong ago had this battle taken place, thought Zack as they sat in hiding.
Something didn’t quite make sense; they were supposed to be here before the assassin so that they could prevent Glenn’s death. If so, why did it look like a battle had already been fought here? Was it the assassin’s blood, Glenn’s blood, or the blood of a random forest creature?
It didn’t matter, decided Zack, they were here to do a job not wonder it there was a job left to do. If it came to that they would tackle that bridge when it was crossed. Sometimes the time-gates at the station were less than accurate, despite the claims of one hundred percent time-date arrival, and they weren’t exactly in the position to just try again. Belthasar had made it quiet clear that if they returned without success, then they’d most likely be jailed or worse.This is a secret operation, the aged guru had told them,and I cannot avow knowledge of this if you should happen to be discovered. You are all on your own after this point.
He signaled two men to scout the perimeter around the frog’s underground abode, using quick hand gestures, and signaled the other 3 to follow him and keep alert. Everyone moved as quiet as ghost, slipping through the bushes and leaves like phantoms, and weaving in and out of cover so they remained hard targets. All the while their forest camouflaged cloaks hid them amongst the greenery.
At last the 4 ex-Observers made it to the small bush that hid the entrance to down below. Zack signaled the group’s seer, a fair skin and blonde haired lass, to attempt a scrying of the room below. A moment later she signaled an all clear, puzzling Zack even more, but he gave the countdown for the moment they would drop in.
The four exploded into action, Zack taking the lead and jumping down the small drop to come up in a roll with sword and magic at the ready. The waiting ice-bolt in his hands lit the room in an eery blue glow; moments later small red and white glows accompanied it as his comrades jumped down with spells at the ready as well. Nothing attacked the alert and battle ready group, and one by one they dropped their spells and brought torches to bear.
The remains of what looked like cruel torture devices littered the hovel, all covered with blood that was just now drying. Stakes, knives of varying lengths carved from wood, vines with thorns aplenty, and an adequate amount of red soil beneath where, Zack guessed, Glenn had been. The pain at one went through in torture was something Zack knew first hand, something always at then forefront of his mind, and the scene was eerily familiar.
Memories, pictures of much more insidious torture devices, flooded Zack’s mind. Hours, days, weeks, months, or years; how long had he been trapped there? His small form begging them to stop, but they wouldn’t. Over and over again saying the same thing, over and over again; until all Zack knew was what they were saying. That was his one and only truth.
Reality snapped back into place for Zack, the scene returned, with his partners examining objects and making guesses of what happened. Now was not the time to think about his nightmares, he ordered himself, now was the time to work. What work could they do though; there was nothing here except perhaps the death bed of Glenn. Since there was no body perhaps the killer had taken him somewhere, and perhaps their team could yet save history.
One of the scouts jumped down the hole, and Zack hoped that perhaps they’d found something. His hopes proved true, two paths of blood led away from the battle, but the truth was a double edged sword. Which path to take? Which path would lead them to Glenn and which would lead him to…something else.
“See if the seer can learn anything,” ordered Zack since they could once again talk aloud without fear of being attacked.If not, he thought,I’ll just flip a coin and let luck decided.