Chrono Cross Condensed Plot Summary
(February 4, 2004)
With contributions from:
bubblebobby2000 and Magus22
Below are two summaries of Chrono Cross. The first is written from an analytical perspective. It shows how the plot of Chrono Cross came to be, starting with the first catalyst event in Chrono Trigger. The second summary follows the perspective of Serge for better reference of how the plot is delivered in-game. It comes from the Chrono Cross Wikipedia article, which I wrote.
Origin of the Time Devourer
When Crono was at the Ocean Palace and the Red Knife was plunged into the Mammon Machine, Schala was thrown into a dimensional vortex at the Ocean Palace disaster along with the machine itself, where either Lavos or temporal disruptions began a merging of the two beings at a place called the Darkness Beyond Time. This went unnoticed, and Lavos merged with Schala with the intent of evolving into a being that could consume all space-time. In 2300 A.D., before Crono saved the world, Belthasar came in from the Ocean Palace disaster to find the new future. He set about building a research institute called Chronopolis, in the Sea of Eden, that is powered by a splinter of Lavos which fell when he landed on the planet millions of years ago. That splinter was called the Frozen Flame. The Flame allowed a kind of communication with Lavos, and additionally, human contact with the Frozen Flame in 3,000,000 B.C. was responsible for the evolution of humans to use magic. Belthasar constructed and ran a computer called FATE, and in the process, found that Schala was being integrated with Lavos. The resulting being, the Time Devourer, would have the capacity to destroy all space-time if allowed to complete the merge. Belthasar thus planned an elaborate, if not needlessly complex, plan to save Schala and eliminate the Time Devourer. Everything after this point is planned by Belthasar, who calls himself the Prophet of Time.
Project Kid and FATE
Belthasar supposedly draws up plans for the Counter-Time Experiment, which, if successful, would allow Chronopolis control over time itself. He then departs to the modern era, around 1010-1020 A.D., and in the future, the Counter-Time Experiment failed which caused the Time Crash. Lavos, awakened at the Ocean Palace according to plan, thought it might mess up history by sucking Chronopolis back through time, which had been exposed by the Time Crash. Through the Frozen Flame, it did so, pulling it back to 12,000 B.C. The planet felt it needed to counterbalance the introduction of this "temporal foreign facility" by pulling in Dinopolis from an alternate dimension, in which the Reptites lived due to Lavos never falling to the planet. The two institutions began warring. Chronopolis fought and won against Dinopolis, and used the power of the Frozen Flame to split up its deity power source, the Dragon God, into six separate entities. FATE decided that in order not to mess up history, it should avoid contact with the mainland of Zenan if possible. It terraformed El Nido so that it could set up its own paradise, and dispatched the workers of Chronopolis to the new islands, erasing their memories in the process. The people would be guided by several terminals called the Records of Fate that could neurologically control its users. The Dragonians, who were survivors from Dinopolis, also settled El Nido and they forged Elements, or devices which could have a natural effect when activated. Lastly, it spread the remnants of the Dragon God around a few special islands, named for their resident piece - Water Dragon Isle, etc...
Settlement of El Nido
History proceeded here normally, and the survivors of Dinopolis (referred to as the Dragonians throughout the game) joined the humans of El Nido. Dragonian technology, called Elements, was adopted by the residents of El Nido, and used as a form of magic. However, it should be noted that this is not innate, but mechanical magic. Element users are using manufactured devices to control the environment, while innate magic users such as Magus and Crono are able to directly produce the effect themselves. All people have an Element "innate color" representing the type of Element (Water, Wind, Earth, etc.) they are most in harmony with. The Dragonians also created an emblem known as the Dragon Tear. In 920 A.D., settlers from Zenan (the continent on which Guardia and Porre from Chrono Trigger are located) found El Nido and began colonization. The Dragonians slowly died out, perhaps leaving Demi-humans behind as half children between humans and Dragonians (they may also be Mystic remnants). A place known as Viper Manor was built at this time, and the Acacia Dragoons were established, who are the self-declared defenders of El Nido. The Viper Clan was responsible for its founding and probably emigrated from mainland Zenan with others.
Serge and the Frozen Flame
In 1005 A.D., the kingdom of Guardia met a violent end in a war with Porre, who, in this timeline, had become a military power (see the Compendium's Rise of Porre article for theories on its military origins). Porre began creating plans for domination of El Nido. In 1003 A.D., Serge was born, and in 1004 A.D., Kid was created by Schala as a clone of herself, and sent into the world according to Belthasar's plan. She was found by Lucca and raised in her house, which was then a converted orphanage. In 1006 A.D., at the age of three, Serge was wounded by a panther demon while playing outside. He was taken out to sea by his father Wazuki, along with Wazuki's friend Miguel, in an attempt to save him. Schala heard his crying from across time, and feeling empathy, she causes a huge magnetic storm to blow them off course to Chronopolis, since the Frozen Flame alone could save Serge. The storm caused Chronopolis' defenses to fail, leaving the facility entirely open. Serge was treated by the Frozen Flame, but it corrupted his father. The defenses came back online; Serge and Wazuki escaped, but Miguel was detained. By contacting the Frozen Flame, Serge became the Arbiter, meaning that only he could access it thanks to the 'Prometheus Circuit' which was built to limit access as part of Belthasar's plan. The circuit was actually Robo, who volunteered to be part of the project. This was a huge setback for FATE and Chronopolis, as the Flame was its power source. FATE took advantage of Wazuki's corruption, and began to shape him to FATE's will. Lastly, during the storm and while Chronopolis was down, the split Dragon Gods briefly came together to create a seventh piece, known to us as the character Harle.
Chrono Cross Begins
In 1010 A.D., FATE succeeded in having Serge's father kill him; the act of doing so permanently warped his father, Wazuki, into a being known as Lynx. After this, Harle befriended Lynx in order to get closer to the Frozen Flame. Time continued normally, and in 1015 A.D., FATE attempted to track down Lucca so that she may deactivate the Prometheus Circuit, which was preventing Chronopolis from accessing its source of power, the Frozen Flame. Lucca's orphanage was burned, and a few children were presumably killed. Kid escaped the fire, and Lucca's whereabouts are unknown after this event, but it is assumed she was probably killed for refusing to deactivate the lock on the Frozen Flame. According to Belthasar's plan, in 1020 A.D., Kid went back in time to 1010 A.D. to save Serge. She succeeded, and a new dimension was "fissioned" off from the main one. The main dimension is now called Another World, and the new one in which Serge lives is called Home World. Inherent properties of Home World caused the future to end in ruin brought about by Lavos. This is reflected in the formation of the Dead Sea, which is Home World's Sea of Eden (Chronopolis has temporal links with the future and reflects its state - see the article Salt for the Dead Sea). In 1020 A.D., Another World, Kid called out to Serge across the dimensions to where he was in the Home World. Additionally, Serge is able to travel between the two dimensions since he is absent from either one or the other at any given time. Serge, seeking the knowledge of why the dimensions exist and how he plays into the scheme of things, embarked on a quest, partly for the Frozen Flame.
Body-Switching and Betrayal
Serge meets Kid for the first time at Cape Howl. The Acacia Dragoons had been dispatched to bring him in because Lynx wanted to capture him and switch bodies in order to access the Frozen Flame at Chronopolis (the Prometheus Circuit only allowed the Arbiter to enter, and one had to pass a biological confirmation of being the arbiter). They defeated the Dragoons and went to Termina. There they decided to enter Viper Manor to learn more and possibly find the Flame. They did not succeed, and Kid was poisoned by Lynx, but she would eventually recover. The quest for the Flame would then lead Serge to Fort Dragonia, where Lynx switched bodies with him by using the Dragon Tear (it shattered in the process, and the party retrieved a shard later on). This effectively allowed Lynx and FATE to access the Frozen Flame again, since the 'Prometheus Lock' allowed biological matches of the Arbiter access to the Flame. Serge, believing FATE is the enemy, journeyed to the Dead Sea and is empowered by the Dragon Gods later. He uses the Dragon Tear of the Home World dimension to regain his body, and in the process, also becomes shattered. Serge would also receive a shard from this Dragon Tear as well. Serge eventually made it to Chronopolis and battled FATE. After the computer's defeat, it is revealed that the Dragon Gods were merely using him as a tool to regain the Frozen Flame. The Dragon Gods, no longer subjugated by FATE, linked together to form the original Dragon God, and stole the Frozen Flame from Chronopolis. Once this occurred, Dinopolis rose from the ocean floor and from parts of Sky Dragon Isle, and formed Terra Tower. Serge then trekked there and defeated the Dragon God. It is then revealed that the Dragon God had long since been consumed by the Time Devourer.
Belthasar explained that all of the transpired events were enacted simply so that Serge would be empowered and able enough to fight the Time Devourer and free Schala. Serge took the shards of the Dragon Tears to a Dragonian shrine, and they formed the Chrono Cross. It is an artifact capable of wondrous things, including the unification of the dimensions back into one strain, and the freedom of Schala from the Time Devourer. Using a Time Egg, the same device by which Crono was resurrected in Chrono Trigger, Serge ventured to the Darkness Beyond Time, where the Time Devourer resided, and used the Chrono Cross to free Schala. The dimensions for Home and Another were also unified. However, little is known of the resolution of Chrono Cross. Serge apparently forgot the adventure after the cutscene when Schala is freed. Additionally, Schala and Kid were said to have merged into one entity, and Schala is hinted to have been sent into another dimension entirely. It has been theorized that Schala went back to find Janus and would return to Serge again, even though Serge may not remember her. This was not entirely known for sure to happen, but it would explain Serge getting married to Kid someday who was said to have merged with Schala into a single entity. This would also end Janus' search for his sister Schala, since she would go back to find him. It is also unknown precisely how the dimensions came together, and whether they adopted one dimension's history predominantly or collated to form a sort of ideal dimension. Now that the Time Devourer has been eliminated, however, Belthasar's plan is complete, and the future can presumably continue on in prosperity.
The Lost Storyline?
The story above may not be the plot as originally intended for Chrono Cross. Signs point to another overarching storyline that involved Serge binding with the Time Devourer itself. In this scenario, if Serge did not defeat the Time Devourer with the Chrono Cross, it would ultimately bind with it and cause the Time Devourer to mature, granting him the power to consume space-time. The Chrono Cross Ultimania supports this notion, claiming that the Arbiter of the Frozen Flame must mediate between his fellow lifeforms and Lavos, or else he will inevitably bind with the creature and spell destruction for other humans. The Ultimania also postulates that Schala was an Arbiter of the Frozen Flame while it existed in Zeal, and that is how she came to bind with Lavos. Apparently, the Time Devourer needed enough power before it could reach maturity, and Serge would have been the final piece in the puzzle. Quotes in the game also seem to hint at this possibility; three come to mind specifically. There is a Demi-human in Marbule that states "anyone who touches that Flame will become a different being." Lynx, at Viper Manor, warns Serge that "there shall be a deep enmity between you and the world" once destruction occurs. Lastly, Belthasar notes that the Arbiter will gain "extraordinary powers...by binding with the new seed of destruction, the Devourer of Time." However, this storyline is not directly stated or implied in Chrono Cross, and neither has series creator Masato Kato confirmed it himself. For the time being, it remains speculation made by the Ultimania authors. Considering that in the same book, they contradict other canon (such as stating the Prometheus Circuit is not Robo, when Masato Kato noted that the circuit is Robo), the veracity of Ultimania is arguable.
The story of Chrono Cross begins with Serge, who must collect colorful scales on the beach for his girlfriend. The setting is El Nido, a tropical archipelago inhabited by ancient natives, mainland colonists, and beings called Demi-humans who are often prejudiced against. While meeting his girlfriend, Serge slips into an alternate dimension in which he drowned on the beach ten years prior. While searching for truth behind his supposed death, Serge meets the famous thief Kid, a teenage girl intent on finding the mysterious Frozen Flame. Serge joins her search, they recruit help, and infiltrate Viper Manor, rumored to host the artifact. Viper Manor is home to the Acacia Dragoons - the combative, affluent, and revered protectors of the island. While in the manor's library, a mysterious old man, known as the Prophet of Time, reveals that ten years before the present, the universe split into two dimensions - one in which Serge lived (Home world), and one in which he perished (Another world). The shadowy antagonist Lynx foils the break-in, poisons Kid, and causes the would-be thieves to flee.
Kid eventually recuperates, and Serge prepares to travel to Fort Dragonia, an ancient ruin left by the Dragonians - a mysterious race gone extinct a hundred years before. There, the Acacia Dragoons intend to make a stand against an invading continental army of Porre. While preparing, Serge gains the ability to travel between the dimensions and secure further assistance and items - including the Water Dragon's breath, capable of freezing lava. He attempts to voyage by boat to the fort's shores, but is interrupted by the pirate Fargo. Initially imprisoned, Serge is freed when the ship comes under attack from ghosts. After earning Fargo's respect, Serge enters the fort and ascends to its highest floor. Through the use of a Dragonian artifact called the Dragon Tear, Lynx switches bodies with Serge. Unknowing of the switch, Kid confides in Lynx; he stabs her as the real Serge helplessly watches in Lynx's body. Lynx, now in Serge's body, boasts of his victory and banishes Serge to a strange realm called the Temporal Vortex. He takes Kid under his wing, brainwashing her to believe the real Serge is her enemy.
Serge escapes with help from Harle. Discovering that his new body prevents him from traveling across the dimensions, he is marooned in Home world. He sets out to regain his former body and learn more of the universal split ten years earlier. He speaks with his mother and recruits new members to his cause. Hearing that a Demi-human sage confined on a cruise ship may be able to help him, he journeys to the S.S. Zelbess. He gains the sage's favor, and is given an artifact that allows access to the Dead Sea, a mysterious body of water. While attempting to enter, he discovers the evil sword Masamune and must counter it with the holy sword Einlanzer. Once inside the Dead Sea, he finds a wasteland frozen in time, dotted with futuristic ruins. At the center, he locates a man named Miguel and presumably Home world's Frozen Flame. Charged with guarding the Dead Sea by an entity named FATE, Miguel battles Serge, but is ultimately defeated. To prevent Serge from obtaining the Frozen Flame, FATE then destroys the Dead Sea. Still in Lynx's body, Serge is rescued by a Dragon, one of the six mythical entities who inhabit El Nido.
Able to return to Another world, Serge finds the Acacia Dragoons in dire straits from Porre's invasion and rescues General Viper's daughter. After collecting six relics from the Dragons, he locates that dimensions Dragon Tear and travels to Fort Dragonia to initiate a ceremony to recreate his body. He succeeds after staving off Lynx at the base of the fortress. With the Dragon relics in tow, he enters the Sea of Eden, which is Another World's physical equivalent of the Dead Sea. He finds a temporal research facility called Chronopolis - inside are Lynx, Kid, and the Frozen Flame. Confronted by Serge, Lynx bonds with the entity FATE (the main computer of the facility) to defeat the boy in battle. He is unsuccessful, and with FATE's capitulation, the defense systems of Chronopolis fall. After uniting in air, the six Dragons fly over the facility and scoop up the Frozen Flame. Kid falls into a coma, and Harle bids the party goodbye to fly with the Dragons. The new villains soar to Terra Tower, a massive structure raised from the sea floor and surrounding islands.
Serge regroups his party and tends to Kid, who remains in a comatose state. Continuing his adventure, he obtains and cleanses the Masamune. He then uses the Dragon relics and shards of the Dragon Tears to create the seventh mythic Element, the Chrono Cross. The spiritual power of the Masamune later allows him to lift Kid from her coma, and they then prepare to assault Terra Tower. He outfits his boat with an anti-gravity device and travels to battle the Dragons. At Terra Tower, the Prophet of Time, who is revealed to be Belthasar from Chrono Trigger, visits him and imparts the boys history. This information is later elaborated on by accompanied apparitions. Serge learns that the time research facility Chronopolis created El Nido thousands of years ago after a catastrophic experimental failure drew it to the past. The introduction of a temporally foreign object in history caused the planet to pull in a counterbalance from a different dimension. This was Dinopolis, a city inhabited by Dragonians, who were the parallel universe descendants to Chrono Trigger's Reptites. The institutions warred and Chronopolis subjugated the Dragonians. Humans captured their chief creation, the Dragon God, which was an entity capable of controlling nature.
Chronopolis divided this entity into six pieces and created an Elements system, which individuals could use for combat or trade. FATE terraformed an archipelago, erased the memories of most Chronopolis staff members, and sent them to inhabit and populate its new paradise. Chronopolis remained obscured from view by dense clouds and was also surrounded by a poisonous reef. Thousands of years later, a panther demon attacked three-year-old Serge. His father took him to find assistance at Marbule, but Serge's boat blew off course due to a raging magnetic storm caused by Schala, the princess of the Kingdom of Zeal. She had long ago fallen to a place known as the Darkness Beyond Time, and began merging with Lavos, the chief villain of Chrono Trigger. Schala's storm nullified Chronopolis' defenses and allowed Serge to contact the Frozen Flame. Approaching it healed Serge, but corrupted his father. By touching the Flame, Serge was designated its Arbiter by a circuit in Chronopolis, simultaneously preventing FATE from using the artifact by extension. The Dragons were aware of this situation and created a seventh Dragon under the storms cover. This Dragon was Harle, who manipulated Lynx by serving as his accomplice.
After Serge returned home, FATE manipulated his father to try and kill the boy, which would release the lock on the Frozen Flame. His father drowned Serge and became Lynx. However, ten years after the event, the thief Kid (presumably on Belthasar's orders) went back in time to save Serge and split the dimensions. FATE, locked out of the Frozen Flame again, knew that Serge would one day cross to Another world and prepared to apprehend him. Lynx switched bodies with Serge to dupe the biological check of Chronopolis on the Frozen Flame. When Serge defeated FATE, the freed Dragons snatched the Frozen Flame and raised Terra Tower. Belthasar then reveals that these events were part of a plan he had orchestrated named Project Kid, and that its final purpose would soon be revealed. Serge continues to the top of Terra Tower and defeats the Dragon God.
Continuing to the beach where the split in dimensions had occurred, Serge finds three apparitions resembling the original team from Chrono Trigger. More of the games history is revealed, such as the revelation that Belthasar planned the entire plot to empower Serge and free Schala from melding with Lavos. The resulting fused being, called the Time Devourer, would consume and destroy space-time. Lucca explains that Kid is Schala's clone, sent to the modern age to take part in Project Kid. Crono entreats Serge to use the Chrono Cross to free Schala. Serge uses a Time Egg, given to him by Belthasar, to enter the Darkness Beyond Time and vanquish the Time Devourer. He separates Schala from Lavos and restores the dimensions to one. Thankful, Schala muses on evolution and the struggle of life and returns Serge to his home, noting that he will forget the entire adventure. She then seemingly records the experience in her diary, set upon a desk on which a wedding photo of Kid and Serge appears. She then embarks on a mysterious search for Serge as cutscenes depict her walking through a modern city. The ambiguous ending leaves the events of the characters' lives following the game up to interpretation.
For specific events that occurred during Serge's quest, check the Chronology.
Good companion articles include Chronopolis, Viper Manor, and Serge. You can also read about who manipulated who at Chrono Cross (Manipulation within). Find out what may have happened in the ending at Chrono Cross Resolutions.
Lastly, these charts, explained further in the article Principles of Time and Dimensional Travel, better depict the progression of timelines and dimensions:
Thanks be to the Compendium and its readers!