Cause and Effect Chapter 1
The Coming of Death
By Icy Brian
Waves splashed quietly along the shore of Truce. They rolled in one after another, a never-ending cycle that had continued since the beginning of time. But time... Time is a word that has different meanings for different people. For some, time is merely a way to measure from one event to the next. Others view time as an imminent force that draws them closer and closer to death.
But there are a select few who have gained the wisdom to have a deep respect for time. These few have seen firsthand the effect their decisions have on the future, and know that time is exceedingly fragile. Every decision a person makes, no matter how small, creates for him a different future, thus creating a different future for every person he meets. In turn, this can lead to a chain reaction which would create a new future for all of mankind.
The direct results of a change in history can be foreseen without too much effort. But what of the indirect results? What sort of effects can a change in history bring about that are entirely unforeseen? And can the rewriting of history create disturbances hundreds of years in the future? The inhabitants of Guardia are about to find out...
* * *
"Will you stop being such a baby?" Marle asked, letting a small laugh escape her lips. It amazed her that someone as big and strong as Crono would complain about a little disinfectant.
"It stings..." Crono winced as Marle poured a bit more on his chest. "I swear, that stuff hurts more than the actual cut did."
"If you'd just be more careful this wouldn't be a problem." Marle warned him. "You know that-"
"I need the practice, Marle. Besides, it wasn't my fault."
"So you're going to blame Lucca for this?"
"Why wouldn't I?" Crono asked, a hint of a smile on his lips. "She created Gato to be a combat training robot. That means he should be able to withstand a simple attack."
"Crono, you cut him in half. Of course he's going to explode." Marle poured a few more drops from the bottle on Crono's arm. "There, all done. Let me just grab some bandages for you." She started to get up, but Crono grabbed her arm lightly.
"Don't worry about it. I heal pretty quickly." Crono stood up and placed the chair he had been sitting in back under the table. "It'll probably help if I let some air get to it, anyways."
"Suit yourself." Marle sighed. She picked up the bottle of disinfectant off the table and walked over to the cabinet, where she placed it back on the shelf. "Come on. We'd better go help Lucca clean up that mess you made."
"Yeah, alright. Let's get going while it's still light out." Crono said as he got up and started for the door.
"Hold on for a second." Marle said, glancing at Crono's tattered shirt. "Don't you want to change before you go? You can always throw on one of the guards' uniforms."
"Are you kidding me?" Crono laughed. "I wouldn't be caught dead in one of those things."
"Fine, fine. In any case, I'm going to grab a pair of sandals. I'll meet you outside in a couple minutes."
"Heh, alright." Crono watched her as she hurried up the stairs. Once she was out of sight, he turned towards the main castle gates. He nodded to the guards on his way out, passing them as he stepped outside into the evening sun. The rays of red sunlight shone just above the trees.
As Crono stood admiring the sun, he caught some movement in Guardia Forest out of the corner of his eye. Curious, he took a few steps closer. He saw it again, this time moving along the treeline. Crono began to edge closer when he heard Marle walk up behind him. He held up a hand as if to tell her to stay quiet. "There's something in the forest."
"Crono, there's always something in the forest." Marle said in a low voice. "There's nothing unusual about that."
"No..." Crono shook his head. "Something about the way it moved... I haven't seen that kind of movement here before." He began to venture into the forest, keeping Marle a few feet behind him. Crono's eyes shot upwards as he heard a rustling in the trees above him. He heard it again, this time coming from a bush to his right. Instinctively, Crono reached for his sword, only to find it gone. He silently cursed himself for having left it at Lucca's house.
Another rustling. Then another. As far as Crono could figure, there were probably six or seven of them. No sooner than he had the thought, one darted out of the bushes and stopped just in front of his feet.
It was a kilwala.
Crono breathed a sigh of relief. "Sorry, guess I over..." His voice trailed off as he saw the look of confusion and fear on Marle's face.
"Crono..." Marle started quietly. "Kilwalas have been extinct for over three hundred years..." Crono froze. She was right. In his recent time travelling, Crono had forgotten that kilwalas were out of place in this era.
"Then how did this one get here?" Crono asked., subtly gesturing with his hand towards the small furry animal. The creature was definitely a kilwala. It hadn't made any big movements, only stood there holding its stomach. As Crono brought his face nearer, he could hear a sound coming from the kilwala. It was moaning. Crono pulled back and now noticed that it was trembling. The kilwalas eyes were as red as blood. No... Crono thought, examining the eyes more closely. Its eyes are bleeding...
And it wasn't just the eyes. Blood was trickling out of the kilwala's mouth, ears, nose... any orifice it could find to escape through. A few more rays of light shone through the trees, and Crono could now see black welts on the kilwala's fur. They started to bubble, and the kilwala fell over in pain as it clutched its stomach. Blood began to ooze out of the welts as the kilwala went into violent spasms.
"Marle, stay back." Crono warned, as he too began to cautiously step back. Before he had even taken his second step, the kilwala suddenly sprang up and lunged at Crono's chest. Crono screamed in pain as the kilwala dug its claws into his chest and vomited blood into Crono's face. The black welts had now opened up completely, and blood was pouring out onto Crono. The kilwala's fur was now caked with dark red blood. Crono screamed again, and an instant later he felt the whiz of an arrow fly by his arm and impale itself on the kilwala, which fell to the ground and lay still. It's face was frozen in a look of sheer torment and anguish.
"Don't come any closer." Crono told Marle as he wiped the blood off his face. "I don't want you getting near this thing." Crono pulled off his shirt and wiped the rest of the blood off of his face and body. Satisfied that he had cleaned off all the blood, Crono tossed his now tattered and bloody shirt on top of the kilwala. "Alright. Let's get over to Lucca's before any more of those things attack."
"Are you okay, Crono?" Marle asked, giving him a worried look. "That thing really got you there."
"I'll be alright." Crono replied. "I feel fine. But we'd better get out of this forest while we still have some light left." Marle nodded silently, and followed a few steps behind Crono as they made their way out of the forest.
* * *
"You're right, that is strange." Lucca said as she and Marle sat in Lucca's living room. Marle had wanted to talk to Lucca right away when they got there, so she went inside while Crono began hauling Gato's remains to Lucca's scrap pile.
"But how did a kilwala end up here? Much less a diseased one. They're supposed to be extinct." Marle watched as Lucca stood up and began pacing. Marle had seen her do this before; she figured that it was just for effect.
"Supposed to, yes." Lucca muttered. "But why aren't they? They were extinct a week ago." She paused and looked over at Marle. "Of course, a week ago the world was supposed to come to an end in the year 1999."
"What are you getting at?" Marle's eyes narrowed a bit, already sensing what Lucca was going to say.
"Think about it, Marle. An extinct species doesn't just miraculously come back from the dead. Especially not in this condition." Lucca stopped pacing and shook her head. "Face it. We caused this."
"How? What did we do that could cause an entire species to live on for another three hundred years and carry some disease?"
"I'm not sure. But those symptoms you described..." Lucca shuddered at the thought. "They don't sound like any virus I've ever heard of."
"What about Crono? Is he going to be okay?" Marle asked.
"I don't know." Lucca sighed. "You're asking me questions that I can't possibly answer right now. The disease might not even be transferable to humans. Maybe it is. If it is, then odds are that it isn't passed through the air. If that were the case, we would have seen plenty of signs of it by now."
"So if it can't be transferred by air..." Marle looked into Lucca's eyes, silently hoping that she would find in them an answer other than what she was thinking. She found none.
"Blood. In which case, our friend Crono is afflicted." Lucca shook her head. "And it wouldn't even have to be blood contact, necessarily. Fleas, ticks, mosquitos... We'd have a real problem on our hands."
"But that's only if humans can get it, right?" Marle asked hesitantly. Lucca nodded. "So we may be getting worked up over nothing. After all, Crono says that he feels fine. And if he feels fine, then he probably is." Marle laughed nervously. "And it may have just been that one kilwala. It may not even be a real disease. What if-"
"Marle..." Lucca whispered, cutting her off. "Look outside." Marle rushed across the room to the window and looked outside. A body was lying on the lawn.
* * *
"I'm okay. Really." Crono insisted. He was now sitting propped up in his own bed. "You can stop worrying and go home."
"No, Crono, you're not okay." Lucca told him. "You just passed out, and right now you're burning up." She looked over at Marle, who was sitting a few feet away with tears in her eyes. Lucca had look away from both of them for a moment and found herself staring at the wall. After a few seconds she shook herself out of it and looked back down at her friend. "Crono... whatever that kilwala had, you have it now." Crono started to open his mouth to protest, but Lucca cut him off. "You're not invincible, Crono." Silence ensued for a number of seconds.
"I know..." Crono said quietly. "I knew from the moment that damned thing attacked me. I just didn't want to admit it." He closed his eyes and laid his head back against the headboard. "I don't want to think that that's going to happen to me. The blood... The black welts... This can't be it. This can't be how I die."
"It won't." Marle said firmly. "We'll find a way to stop this before it can hurt you or anyone else."
"That may be a problem." Lucca said, gesturing towards the window. Marle nervously took a step closer so she could see outside. Two bodies lay on the streets below. "It's spreading."
"No!" Marle shouted, slamming her fist down on Crono's desk. "I won't let this happen!"
"How?" Crono asked. "We don't even know what started this."
"We did, Crono." Lucca said with a tone of guilt in her voice. "Something we did caused this.... This Black Death... And now we have to figure out what we did so we can go back and fix it."
Everything I touch I break...
- Stabbing Westward
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