The Armageddon Equation Chapter 1

By Frank Verderosa

The young man sat at the very edge of the promontory, his feet dangling over the side, his heels tapping slowly against the granite outcrop that rose a good twenty meters above the ocean below. A warm breeze wafted through his hair, stirring the strands that hung down beneath his kerchief. It was a warm night, and the breeze did not chill him. On the contrary, it felt refreshing. He lifted his head and looked up at the carpet of diamonds that covered the sky above him. It seemed like years since he had done anything like this. He remembered years back, when he was younger, how he used to spend the whole summer at Opassa beach, or here at Cape Howl, or even sitting on the roof of his hut, staring up at the stars at night. He had always thought those days would last forever. He had always thought they would never end.

Of course, they had. The summer that was just now turning to autumn had been far different from any before it. He still could hardly believe it had happened. Even now, when he thought back to his adventures, his meeting with Kid and all the others, his search for the Chrono Cross, his battles with Lynx and ultimately the Time Devourer, it all seemed like a dream. Had he really managed to save the world from destruction?

The sound of clear laughter, like the tinkling of a chime, made him turn his head. Leena stood up from a kneeling position not far away from him and walked toward him.

"What's so funny?" he questioned.

"I've caught a glowbug," she replied, stretching out her arm in front of him. To say that she'd caught the bug didn't seem quite accurate. The bug was not in her hand, but instead clinging to the back of her wrist, looking like a rather garish piece of jewelry, and seemed quite content to remain exactly where it was. The soft body, as well as Leena's arm and face above it, where well illuminated in it's greenish light.

"It tickles," she said, smiling with delight.

Serge couldn't help but smile as well.

"I think it likes you," he observed.

"You think so?" Leena said, sounding genuinely pleased.

Serge nodded. Leena sat down beside him. The glowbug spread it's wings and flew off. They turned and watched as it glided through the air toward all the other green sparks flitting beneath of the trees of the forest behind them.

"It's so peaceful here," Leena said as their heads turned once more to look out over the ocean. She spoke softly, as if talking too loud would somehow spoil the moment. "I just want to sit here forever."

"I don't think your mom would be too happy about that," Serge replied. "I promised to have you home before the moon came up. It's the only reason she let you come in the first place."

Leena gave him a rueful smile.

"I know," she said. "It's not fair. She treats me like such a child. I'm old enough to baby sit half the kids in the village, yet she still thinks I can't take care of myself."

Serge nodded. Before this summer his mother had treated him the same way. He had to admit that after what had happened, however, her attitude seemed to have changed. She seemed much more liberal with him these days, something he was very glad for. Perhaps she was finally realizing he wasn't a kid anymore.

"You know how parents are," was all he could think of to say. "You're going to be her little girl for the rest of your life."

Leena gave him a sour look.

"Oh, that's just what I need," she replied. "I'll be married and she'll still want me in by dark!"

Serge didn't reply, just looked at the dark mass of the ocean below. He had grown up these last few months. He had traveled all over the world, and another one as well. He had met people from all over. It was no wonder his mom thought him more mature.

He wondered where everyone was now. He had met so many people. After the battle with the Time Devourer, they had all gone back to their homes, back to their own lives. He was sure he'd see some of them again someday. Some of them didn't live far away, or wouldn't be hard to find. Others, he wasn't so sure.

The day after the battle they had gone back to Termina. The next day, Kid was gone. Just vanished, just like that. No goodbye, no anything. He hadn't seen her again.

She didn't have a home. The only home she ever had had been destroyed by Lynx. Of everyone he had met, she was the only one who had not had a counterpart on the other world. Why had that been? Did that mean that she didn't come from his world either. Did that mean that she didn't belong anywhere?

We'll meet again, someday.

Why did he remember hearing those words from her lips? She had never said it. Not as far as he could remember. She hadn't said anything before she left. But the words were there, almost like he had heard them in a dream.

He realized Leena was staring at him, as if waiting for a reply, and he hadn't been paying attention.

"What?" he questioned.

"You never listen to me, do you?" she admonished. "I said, now that you've seen so much of the world, do you still want to live in Arni Village after we get married?"

He took a deep breath. There was a hint of salt in the air from the ocean below them. It wasn't the first time she had mentioned marriage, but for some reason, that kind of talk always made him a little uncomfortable. He looked at her for a moment. She was right beside him, her leg pressing against his own. He could barely make out her features in the darkness, but he could see she was looking at him, her eyes seeming to twinkle. He saw a faint glow about her neck. The astral amulet lay there, glinting in he starlight. When he had shown it to her she had immediately been taken by its beauty. He had given it to her, and she had added it to the necklace of komodo dragon scales. He didn't have any use for it anymore, and it looked pretty on her.

They had been friends forever. They had grown up together. He knew her better than anyone did, and she him. She was very pretty, and he was comfortable beside her. It was only natural that they get married someday.

"I suppose," he said slowly. "Even though I've seen a lot, Arni village is still my home. I don't think there's any other place I'd rather live."

Leena smiled, then grabbed his arm and squeezed it.

"I'm glad," she said. "I really can't picture myself living anywhere else. I love the village, and all my friends, and Poshul. And we can have lots of other animals besides Poshul. You know how much I love animals. I'm sure Poshul won't get jealous. We can have a lot of animals, right Serge?"

The breeze had picked up, was blowing directly in off the water now. The hair on Serge's head lifted with it. It was a little cooler than before.

And...something else.

Serge got to his feet. He felt suddenly lightheaded. It wasn't the first time he had felt this way.

Leena stood up too, looking at Serge with a puzzled expression.

He looked down. A green mist was wafting up off the ground, being picked up by the wind and slowly swirling around him.

No, not again!

"Serge!" he heard Leena cry out.

"Leena!" he shouted, though he did not hear any words come out. The green mist flowed around him like a living thing now, and the rest of the word seemed to be fading into darkness. He could just barely make out Leena, still staring at him, her hand outstretched.

He reached out, trying to take her hand, but he felt nothing at all.



He was on his knees. He lifted his head, looking around. He was perched on the edge of the promontory. The sound of the waves splashing on the rocks below came to his ears. The ocean was still there, and the stars above. It seemed as if nothing had changed.

He looked around slowly.

Leena was no where to be seen.

He pulled himself to his feet, cursing under his breath. It had happened again. He was in the other world. He was sure of it. He would never forget that feeling, the feeling he got when traveling between worlds, like your insides were doing some kind of corkscrew. They had beaten the Time Devourer. He had thought it was all over. How could this happen again?

He stood there in silence for a long time, not sure exactly what he was waiting for. Some kind of sign perhaps? Something to tell him why this had happened, but he saw nothing, and heard only the waves below.

He shrugged. Whatever had happened, it seemed obvious he wasn't going to find out what was going on by standing around here. He had to get back to the village.

He started down the path, walking quickly. He couldn't believe it. He couldn't believe it was happening again. What would he find in the village this time? Last time this had happened, no one knew him. The 'him' from this world had died years before. He wondered what had changed here in the time he had been gone. At least this time, people would know who he was.

He reached the forest, or rather, where the forest began on his own world. He stopped, staring. There were trees here, yes, but they were all dead. Nothing remained of them except gnarled trunks with a few grizzled blackened branches, like ghostly caricatures of living trees. There was no grass, no vegetation at all. The ground looked as scorched and dead as the trees. It was as if a giant fire had passed by, destroying everything in its path, but if it was a fire, it must have been huge. Even in the darkness, he could see the destruction just went on and on. He had never seen anything like it. It wasn't like this on his own world, and had not been like this on the other world either. What had happened here?

He walked slowly forward, hardly believing his eyes. There was nothing left alive. He looked ahead, a sudden knot forming in the pit of his stomach. Arni village was directly ahead, only two kilometers to the east. How far did this destruction reach?

He broke into a run, deathly afraid that something might have happened to the village. Even if it was another world, the people were still the same. The villagers here were just as much a part of him as those in his own world.

There was still no moon. He had only the stars to guide him. The ground was broken and uneven, filled with holes that he couldn't see. He stumbled and fell, scrapping his knee, drawing blood. He got up, hurrying on, just a bit slower. He had to find out what had happened here.

He stumbled again, but righted himself before he fell this time. He stopped, listening.

A jutting ridge of land prevented him from seeing, but he could hear a sound coming from ahead of him, a slow reverberating sound. He had never heard anything quite like it.

He made his way up toward the top of the ridge, not sure what to expect. The sound slowly increased, until it seemed like the very ground beneath him was vibrating. What could cause such a disturbance? He looked up toward the crest of the ridge and saw lights flickering beyond.

And then he heard another sound. This one he recognized immediately. It sounded like the retort of a gun.

He reached the top of the ridge. It had been a steep climb, and he was tired, yet that feeling was forgotten as he stared at what lay beyond.

The sound roared in his ears now, and he could see the cause of it. Something was floating in the air. The ground leveled out below him, and it hovered perhaps ten meters above, moving slowly in his direction. In the dark he wasn't sure how far away it was. At first he thought it looked like some kind of bird, but it was like no bird he had ever seen before. Lights flared from it, the beams shooting across the darkness to illuminate the land below it.

It was some kind of...machine.

It had to be. It had wings, just like a bird, but they did not flap. Even in the dark, he could see they were made of some kind of metal. It was a machine, some kind of flying machine.

The only flying machine Serge had ever seen was Starky's spacecraft, but this looked nothing like that. Somehow he doubted his little Martian friend had anything to do with this.

In spite of his amazement at the device in front of him, his eyes were drawn to movement on the ground below it.

There was someone there, running in front of it, the lights shining directly on him. It was a man. He wasn't that far away. If Serge had bet that nothing could surprise him more than seeing that machine floating in the air, he would have lost.

The person running ahead of the machine was himself.

In spite of what his own eyes were showing him, he couldn't seem to get himself to believe it. It couldn't be him. It was impossible. The him from this world died years ago, when he had been only seven years old.

Yet, now matter how much he blinked and rubbed his eyes, the Serge in front of him refused to vanish.

He was running in a zig zag pattern. It seemed obvious that the flying machine was chasing him for some reason.

Serge stood there, watching, not sure what to do. Not sure if there was anything he could do. Suddenly the Serge below him turned. There was a retort, and he saw a flash of light. That must have been the gunshot he had heard. The Serge below must have a firearm, just like Norris used, but he had never used a firearm in his life.

Could this be a Serge from a world he had never visited? Had he somehow been transported here as well?

If he thought that his surprises for the night were over, he was mistaken.

The sound of gunfire sounded again, this time coming from the flying craft.

Only it didn't stop.

Dust kicked up all around the Serge who was running below. The rat-tat-tat of gunfire went on and on. Serge stared at the flying machine, watching the flickers of light from the muzzle of a long gun suspended from below the vehicle. It was firing one shot after another, in a continuous stream. Norris' gun had only fired a few shots, and even they weren't as quick as this. What kind of gun was that?

The gunfire stopped. The Serge below him had turned, running past the machine, straight up the ridge, right toward him. The flying machine turned and rose in the air to get a better angle.

The other Serge was quite close now. He didn't know what was going on, but someone was obviously trying to kill the other him. He had to come to his aid somehow.

He looked down at the elements suspended from his belt. Fortunately he'd been smart enough to bring some along, even though he hadn't been expecting trouble. What kind would work against such a thing, however, was another matter.

The Serge below him turned again. Still running, he fired another shot at his tormenter. This was a mistake. Not looking where he was going, he stumbled on the uneven ground and fell sprawling.

He sprang to his feet almost immediately, but the second's hesitation had given his pursuer time to get in position. It's bright lights shone directly down upon him.

There was another burst of gunfire, this one from point blank range, and Serge saw his counterpart stumble backwards from the impact. He tried to fire again, but the shot went awry. He stood there a moment, swaying, and then slowly fell over backwards onto the ground.

"No!" Serge shouted.

He stood there, staring at the still body just a few meters away, unwilling to believe what he had just seen.

They had killed him.

The ship hovered over the spot, lights aimed directly at the body, as if making sure they had finished their job.

But not all of them. A few of the lights were swinging around, sweeping the ground nearby. One of them suddenly cast its bright glare right on him.

For a moment he stood there, neither he nor the flying machine moving. He didn't know what was going on, couldn't think straight, but one thing he did know, he looked exactly like the other Serge. For all pretense and purposes he was the other Serge. If they wanted to kill him...

As if to confirm his worst fears, the roar of the engines whined louder, and the flying machine came straight for him.

He turned and ran.

Straight down the hill, back in the direction he had come, racing over the uneven ground as fast as his feet could take him. He didn't know how to fight this. He didn't even know if his elements would have any effect. All he could think of was he had to get out of there as fast as he could. He had to find a place to hide.

There was no vegetation. It had been burned away by whatever apocalypse had befallen the place. The trees were bare stumps. There was no place to hide.

He heard the sound of gunfire again, so loud it made his ears ring. To the right of him dust flew. He could hear the shells thudding into the ground.

He cut to the left, running parallel along the slope. The machine was much faster than he was, and didn't have to worry about stumbling on the broken ground. There was no way he could outrun it.

His hand fell to his belt again, grabbing an element at random. He had no choice but to fight.

He pulled up, lifting the element in his hand, but then he paused again.

He heard a new sound.

It wasn't unlike the roar of the flying machine. Alike, but not the same. Not quite as loud, and higher pitched. It was rapidly getting louder.

He saw another light, coming from the opposite direction from the flying machine. It was moving along the ground, coming straight at him, and it was moving very fast.

Suddenly there was a flash of light. A line of fire streaked through the air, straight over his head with a whoosh. He turned just in time to see a thunderous explosion engulf the flying machine above him.

Instinctively he ducked down, covering his head. He heard what he assumed were pieces of the flying machine thudding on the ground, but none fell near him. The flying machine wobbled in the air. He could see flames shooting from the tail end of it, but it did not fall from the sky. It turned, like some laborious wounded beast, and slowly flew off to the east, sinking lower in the sky as it went, until it disappeared over the ridge.

He didn't have time to gawk. Something was approaching. The thing that had somehow knocked the flying machine out of the sky. He would have thought this some kind of beast as well, if he didn't know better by now. The sound it was making gave away the fact that it had some kind of engine, just like that in the flying machine, or similar.

It was much smaller than the flying machine. As it approached he saw it was vaguely human in form. No, not human, a human was on it. It was some kind of vehicle, only this one traveled along the ground. The noise grew to a deafening roar as it pulled up beside him. He found himself staring at some kind of two wheeled vehicle, with what was quite obviously a person perched on top.

A person he was very familiar with.

"Oi! What are you waiting for mate?" Kid shouted above the din. "There's bound to be more of those blokes on the way. Get onboard!"

"Kid!" he exclaimed.

"Well, who were you expecting, the Queen of Nido? C'mon, another one of them could be here any minute. Get your arse in gear!"

He stood there looking at her, and at the strange machine she sat upon. There didn't seem to be any place for him to fit on it.

"Get on, where?" he questioned.

Kid looked at him like he was an idiot.

"What are you daft, mate? Right behind me!"

He hesitated a moment more. There was nothing for it though. He certainly didn't want to meet another one of those flying machines.

He lifted a leg over the machine and settled down behind Kid.

Kid revved the machine then turned to look back at him.

"Well, hold onto me, unless you'd like to fall off!"

Again he hesitated, as she nodded toward her midsection. With a shrug he curled his arms around her.

In spite of his hold, he nearly fell over backwards as she gunned the engine. She spun the motorcycle around, and then raced off to the west.

"I thought you were dead, mate," Kid shouted as they rode. "When Karsh told me you'd been cut off by Porre troops I figured the game was up. It's a miracle I found you. I thought I was going to be too late for sure."

Serge crouched down lower, using Kid's body to shield him from the wind.

"You were," he shouted.


"You were," he repeated.

"Were what?"

"Too late!"

She glanced back at him again.

"What is wrong with you, mate?"

"I'm not Serge," he shouted. "At least, not the one from this world. He's back there, dead. They killed him."

In spite of the hurry they might have been in, Kid brought the motorcycle to a sudden halt. She spun around and stared at him.

"Not the Serge from this world," she said slowly.

Serge shook his head.

"No, I was brought here somehow, and it's not the first time it's happened. You don't remember me?"

"What do you mean, remember you?" she said. "I've know you for years."

"No, not like that, you don't remember..." he stopped. In the back of his mind, a new thought was growing. He looked down.

"What is this thing we're on?" he questioned.

"Are you bloody insane mate?" Kid snapped. "You know damn well it's a motorcycle."

"A...motorcycle," he said slowly. "How long have these been around?"

"I don't know. Years," she replied. "Why are you asking such stupid questions?"

"And that thing in the sky. That flying machine. What do you call that?"

"It's an airplane," she said, sounding like she wasn't happy giving first grade English lessons.

"And the thing you shot it down with?"

"That was a Firehawk, a surface to air missile. What's wrong with you?"

She stopped and stared at him.

"You really must be from another world," she said slowly. "Steena was right. It worked."

He glared at her.

"Steena was right about what? What worked?"

"Never mind," Kid replied. "Don't they have these things where you come from?"

"No, they don't," Serge replied. "And they didn't have them here either. Not if here is where I think it is, but I'm beginning to think it's not."

"I don't have time for these riddles bloke, can'tcha just speak plainly?" Kid said impatiently.

Her head suddenly snapped up. Serge turned to look in the direction she was facing. He saw a pinpoint of light in the sky.

"They're comin'!" she snapped. "We ain't got no more time to talk."

She gunned the engine and raced off again.

"Where are we going?" Serge shouted, noticing that they were heading west, away from Arni Village.

"Someplace safe," she replied.

"I wanted to get to Arni Village," he stated. "I want to see if Leena is all right."

"Don't be an idiot!" Kid snapped vehemently. "You can't go there!"

"Why not?" Serge said in surprise.

She didn't reply. He wasn't sure if she heard him over the roar of the engine. He looked around. He could see the mountains looming up ahead of them. Even so, the land around them was still ravaged. There was nothing alive here, for kilometers and kilometers. What kind of catastrophe had done this, and what had happened at Arni Village?

This wasn't the other world. They couldn't have developed these kind of machines in the time he was gone, at least, not unless time ran very differently here. No, it wasn't the other world he was in, this wasn't the world he had visited before. This was a totally new one.

A totally new one with technology more advanced than he had ever seen.

And one that had somehow been devastated.

Serge looked behind them. The point of light had grown considerably.

"I think they're catching up!" he shouted.

Kid glanced behind her.

"Damn," she snapped. The engine whined even louder, as she opened up the throttle as far as it would go. "It's going to be close. I just hope Karsh is ready."

He didn't know what she was talking about, but he was too busy watching the flying machine racing toward them to question her.

He could see it clearly now. It was just like the other one. It had obviously seen them as well, for it was headed straight at them. In spite of the motorcycle's tremendous speed, or so it seemed to Serge, the aircraft was catching up.

"Can't you go any faster?" he shouted.

"She's flat out!" Kid cried.

"Well, what about using one of those Firehawk thingamowhatsis?"

"I don't have anymore," Kid retorted.

"So what are we going to do?"

"Hang on and pray!"

He looked back. The airplane was much closer now, coming up right behind them. Already he could hear the roar of its engine above the sound of the motorcycle.

There was a blast of gunfire, and the dirt beside them flew in the air.

"Shit!" Kid exclaimed.

She twisted the motorcycle to the left, nearly dislodging Serge. He hung onto her tightly with his left hand, but he lifted his right hand up. He still held the element in his grasp. It didn't seem like he had much to lose by using it at this point.

His hand tightened around it.

There was a flash of yellow light, and a moment later a blast of electricity shot through the aircraft above them.

The lights went out. The aircraft dipped, though he could still hear the whine of its engine. Kid's head spun around to look behind.

"What in bloody hell did you do?" she shouted.

"I used an electrobolt element on it," he yelled back.

"A what?"

"An electrobolt element," he repeated, pointing to the elements placed in the pouches around his belt.

Kid turned back to look where she was going.

"I don't know what you're talking about, but keep it up!"

Serge frowned. She didn't know what an element was? What kind of strange world was this?

The night behind them was suddenly flooded with light again. He turned around and saw the aircraft pursuing them once more. Apparently, his attack hadn't done any permanent damage.

"Can you do it again?" Kid yelled.

"I'm sure I have something else here..." Serge replied, fumbling with his belt.

At that moment, another aircraft appeared. It was flying so low, they didn't see it until it was nearly on top of them, and it was coming from directly in front of them.

"Ahhh!" Serge shouted.

There was a roar as a blast of gunfire erupted nearly right above their heads.

But it was not directed at them.

The first aircraft suddenly broke off the attack, making a screaming turn, the second aircraft in hot pursuit. Kid turned her head, a look of glee on her face.

"Yeah, go get 'em Karsh!" she shouted with such exuberance she nearly spilled them off the bike.

"Karsh?" Serge said slowly. Karsh was in that? So it was not only their unknown enemy who had these flying machines.

He watched as the aircraft flew through the sky, Karsh still in pursuit, but they were flying very low, and quickly disappeared beyond the horizon.

Kid turned to look where she was going once again. The motorcycle raced along for perhaps another fifteen minutes, until they reached the foothills of the mountains. Serge kept looking back, trying to see the outcome of the battle in the skies, but they remained clear. Kid headed for a narrow valley, and a few minutes later, a tall waterfall loomed up into view directly in front of them.

Without slowing down, Kid rode right underneath it.

Serge had been here before, on his planet, or the other one. It was getting very confusing. This was the place where he had found the Chrono Cross.

Now it appeared someone had set up camp here. There were fires burning along the wall of the cave, and he could see tents set up.

Kid pulled the bike up to the nearest tent and stopped, cutting the engine. Serge's ears continued to ring.

Kid hopped nimbly off the bike. Serge got off more slowly. He could see figures coming toward them. Three people. As they neared he recognized them all.

"You found him," Glen spoke up, a smile on his rugged features.

"Yeah, well, sorta," Kid replied.

"What do you mean, sorta?" Orlha stated, her pigtails bobbing in the firelight.

"Apparently, this is a Serge from another world," Kid replied. "Seems like Steena's little experiment was as success."

"She'll be glad to hear that," Zoah stated, his deep voice echoing through the cavern.

"Could someone please tell me what's going on here?" Serge requested. "I take it Steena is responsible for my being here. Why?"

"I'm afraid you'll have to talk to her to get the full story on that," Glen said. "Unfortunately, she's not here right now. She's away on an errand and won't be back for a few days at least. If you come with us, we can at least fill you in on what is going on here though."

"Thanks," Serge said. "I would appreciate that."

"Hey wait a second," Orlha spoke up. "If this is the Serge from another world, then where's the real Serge?"

Kid looked at Serge for a moment.

"He's dead," she said.

"What?" Glen said as the others gasped.

Serge nodded.

"I saw him. One of those airplane things killed him. It happened right in front of me."

"This is grave news indeed," Zoah said slowly.

Orlha nodded, but did not speak.

Glen led them into a tent. It was quite spacious inside, and so large there was room for a fire within. Sitting beside the fire was none other than Radius.

"Radius!" Serge said, very pleased to see the village elder, "you're here too?"

Radius looked at him and nodded.

"Yes," he said slowly. "Why does that surprise you?"

"It's a long story," Kid muttered.

Radius bade them be seated, and then Serge told them all the story of how he came to be here.

When he was done Radius nodded gravely.

"What an interesting tale, but if, as you say, the Serge from this place is truly dead, it seems that you may now be our only hope."

"I don't understand," Serge stated.

"That does not surprise me," Radius replied. "It all began a long time ago, when Miguel found the ruins of Chronopolis."

"Miguel," Serge said slowly. "Leena's father."

Radius nodded.

"He found a place in Chronopolis where time did not pass. He realized it was a rift, and bridge between what was to be and what might be. He looked around and saw that only one path could be taken, and for each path that was taken, for whatever future became reality, a thousand others would fall by the wayside."

Serge nodded. It had been the same way in his world, when he and the others had confronted Miguel.

"For some reason, he could not live with that. He didn't want any future to die. He did not want us to choose a path. He wanted things to remain static, to have no future and no past, and this way, no future would die. Instead of sacrificing all but one future, he wanted to give up them all."

"It was not the choice of a rational man," Radius continued. "The world cannot remain static. Things must move on. That is the nature of life. You and your friends, or the you from this world, Serge, managed to stop him."

Radius shifted to a more comfortable position.

"You defeated him, yet he still lived, and swore revenge. If his mind was disturbed before, the defeat completely unbalanced him. He decided if the world could not remain static, then he would have no world at all. He was close friends with General Viper, a man whose ambition knew no bounds. He convinced him and the Porre army to unleash their photon bombs against their enemies."

Serge just looked at Radius. He had never heard of a photon bomb.

"A photon bomb is a weapon of massive destructive power," Radius went on. "They had never been used in war before, but once the General used them, his opponents had no choice but to respond in kind. The result of which is that our world is as you see it now, devastated beyond repair. Dying."

"Both Miguel and General Viper were killed in the war, yet their legacy lives on without them. There is no hope for recovery. This world has been too badly damaged. Yet, that does not mean there is no hope at all. While you were in Chronopolis, you discovered the existence of the Chrono Cross. With this device, it may be possible to alter the timeline, to correct the mistakes, to make it as if the destruction never happened. The problem is, we don't know where the Chrono Cross is. The Serge from this world was searching for it. As the Chrono Trigger, he was the only one who could wield it. He was our only hope."

Radius fell silent. No one else spoke, but Serge could feel all eyes upon him. He didn't know what to say. It was all so sudden, just like the last time. He had already done this. He had already saved the world. He thought his time was up, his tasks were done, and he could sit back and relax, have a normal life again. It seemed so unfair!

Nevertheless, looking around at the faces staring at him, he knew he had to do something. This might be another world, but these were his friends. He knew what they would all do if they were in this position. Yet still, he needed some questions answered first.

"You say Miguel is dead," he spoke up, his voice sounding strangely loud in the silent tent. "It that's true, then who was in that flying machine trying to kill us?"

"Miguel had many followers," Radius replied. "The new leader of the Porre army is just as determined to see Miguel's vision come true as he was."

Serge nodded slowly.

"If I do help you, I'll need to find the Chrono Cross on this world, but the last time I did that, I had to travel back and forth between my world and the other. In order to do that I need the astral amulet. Kid gave me the first one, but I do not have it."

He turned to face Kid.

"Do you?"

Kid shook her head.

"I have no bloody idea what you're talkin' about, mate," she said.

"Hmm," Serge said thoughtfully. "The last time this happened, Kid was the one who brought me through the gate to the other world. This time it was Steena. Does she have the amulet?"

"She is not here to ask, but I don't believe so," Radius replied. "I believe she suspected that the Serge from this world might not be able to use the Chrono Cross, that it was only you, Serge, the you from your world, and you alone, who was the true Chrono Trigger. I believe that is why she brought you here, but I think the method she used was useful only one way."

"So if she doesn't have it, then who does?" Serge mused.

Kid suddenly looked at him suspiciously.

"Oi, you're not thinkin' of coppin' out on us, are ya?"

"Of course not," Serge said defensively.

"I think we can trust our young friend," Radius stated. "I feel no dishonesty in him. Unlike you," he said, giving Kid a glance. "Since our worlds are connected, perhaps the astral amulet is in the same place here as it is in your world?"

"Yes," Serge said. "That might be it. Leena has it. She's wearing it as a necklace. All we have to do is go to Arni Village and..."

He stopped, looking at the faces of those around him, all of them registering a look of dismay.

"What?" he said, the feeling that something was very wrong once more coming to the fore. "What is it? What's wrong at Arni Village?"

There was silence. He looked around from one to the other, but none seemed anxious to talk.

Finally Kid stepped forward.

"Haven't ya been listenin' at all, ya bloody fool. Arni village is the headquarters of the Porre army. Miguel's daughter is the one leading them. She's the one that sent that plane to kill ya!"

Serge just stood there with his mouth open. Once again, he couldn't believe what he was hearing. There was no way. It was impossible. Just impossible!


Chapter 2

Cold Fusion

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