Cause and Effect Chapter 2
Change The Past, And History Repeats Itself
Lucca sipped on the warm tea and adjusted her glasses, paying no attention to the world around her. Marle saw this, and she became annoyed. How can you be so happy at a time like this? Your best friend is going to die from a horrific disease, the infection is obviously spreading, and youre sitting there drinking some kind of coffee without a care in the world.
First of all, Marle, its a Mocha Latte, and second, we could be making a much bigger deal out of this than it really is, Lucca exclaimed. For example, diseases that are terminal to some animals cause nothing more than a fever in others. Besides, we dont have enough information to do anything about this.
In that case, maybe we should gather this information, Marle snarled angrily. And Crono already has more than a fever.
He has the equivalent of a bad case of the flu right now, nothing to be concerned about. Three people is not an outbreak. If some sort of parasite causes this, it may not even be communicable between humans.
What? How does that work? Marle asked.
Well, Lucca began, Parasitic creatures often live very complex life styles that involve more than one host. Take our good friend Lavos, for example. Starts life on one planet, must eventually move to another so that it can survive, grow, and reproduce. If this is the case with our little epidemic, then the only way humans can get it is from the kiwalas.
Interesting, Marle said. Anything else?
If its bacteria, then its some kind of shit that Ive never seen before. If its a virus, then it isnt airborne, otherwise we would have been infected by now. If its a virus that mutates, were in trouble.
What do you mean by that? Marle demanded.
If it mutates, and a new strain becomes airborne Lucca trailed off, seemingly worried. If it becomes airborne, and if the effects are terminal to humans, were all going the way of the kiwalas.
How are we going to stop it? Marle questioned.
First things first, go back to the castle. Tell your father, and get whatever scientists you can over here. I just hope that someone knows something, Lucca wished.
Right, Marle agreed. If my father knows, then we can warn the entire kingdom.
After that, we can try to find a cure, or we could try our luck at changing time again. Lucca noted. Right now, the best thing that we can do is wait and pray. You should get going. Im going up to look at Crono.
Alright, Lucca. Ill be back as soon as I can. Marle wasted no time running out the door, leaving her crossbow behind. She realized this not long after she had left Luccas house, but opted not to get it. She had made the journey between Truce and the castle many times, quite a few alone and unarmed, and nothing had ever happened to her. Halfway through her journey, she met with two soldiers on the side of the dirt path. One was lying flat on the ground, his armor piled off to the side, and the other man kneeled over the top of him. It didnt take long for the soldiers to recognize Marle.
Princess! The one who was kneeling yelled. We were sent to find you. The king is worried about some sort of
What happened to him!? Marle demanded, referring to the soldier on the grass.
He has what we were sent to protect you from, Princess. He informed. He was attacked by some kind of beast that Ive never seen before, he killed it, and its blood got all over him. Now he looks worse than a mystic with a bad case of acne.
So you guys know about this, too? Marle asked.
Nadia, the whole kingdom is in an absolute uproar. Weve got well over a dozen cases already. Do you have any idea what the hell those things that keep attacking us are?
Theyre kiwalas, Marle stated.
What? the soldier responded, shocked. Thats preposterous! Kiwalas have been
Extinct for over three hundred years, yes, I know, Marle finished. Listen, if you have any kind of open cut on your hand, dont touch him. Im going to the castle, Im going to see if theres anything we can do about this.
Princess, about that open cut thing, Im afraid that its a little late. I suppose that Im infected now.
Marle nodded, Youll be feeling the symptoms pretty soon. Ill send for some help. Tell your friend there to hold on. The soldier nodded back to her in response, and Marle sprinted, trying to make up for the lost time spent on her detour. She entered the forest a few minutes later, and navigated her way through the brushes and the trees. She was running so blindly that she didnt have time to react to the large stone in the path. Her toe hit the rock in mid stride, and the royal princess flew off the ground. She landed on her right arm, directly on top of a pile of twigs and underbrush. Her arm was scraped badly, and she swore at herself while casting a couple of simple healing spells on it, but gritting her teeth as the pain still filtered itself throughout her body. She had not wasted the time to fully heal the abrasion, still set on getting to Guardia Castle.
As Marle forced herself back onto her feet, a force from behind knocked her back to the ground. She rolled over when she fell to the earth again, and saw that a kiwala had been the assailant, and it was now tumbling past her. Marle reached back for her crossbow, but cursed loudly when she found it missing. The kiwala had returned to its feet, and charged the princess. Marle formed a wall of ice in front of herself, separating her from the creature running at her, and then covered her head, cringing.
The kiwala hit the wall with a large thud, followed by a sickening squish and equally disturbing cracking sounds. Marle looked up, and saw the once clear ice wall now stained a deep red. White feathers were scattered around the messy carnage, and the scene reminded Marle of the time Crono had stolen one of Luccas napalm bombs and stuffed it into a poyozo doll that he had won at the fair, only much bloodier. From all guesses, the weakened kiwala had burst open from the impact with the ice, much the same way the one that had attacked Crono in the forest had.
Before Marle had time to recover from her pounding heart and rapid breathing, something else jumped on her from behind. This creature was much larger, and it wrapped its arms around her. Something strong grabbed onto her arms, and the creature squeezed her body tightly. Marle could feel a warm, sticky liquid smearing on her arms, and she screamed, hoping to catch the attention of someone. A few seconds later, the animal released its bear hug on Marle, and the sound of gasping for oxygen filled the air. After that, her whole back, covered by whatever creature lay on top of her, became soaked with a similar warm and sticky liquid.
Marle closed her eyes tightly and held her breath for well over a minute, and then tried pushing the animal off her. The weight of the lifeless body moved more easily than she had expected, and she rolled over to examine it. What she saw horrified her. The creature that had tackled her was a human, a royal knight. His face and hands were covered in blood, and it had smeared onto his clothing. His chest had split open, as if it had been cleaved in half by a giant axe, and the chest cavity appeared to have been rotted out. The heart and lungs were both clearly visible, and they were a scarred black, like he had been dead for a week already. His upper torso was nothing more than a thick soup of blood and flesh, and his sullen eyes were wide open in terror. His mouth was open wide as well, and his nostrils were flared. He had died the same way the kiwala that attacked Crono did.
Marle stared down at the mans hands, and they were coated with bloody tissue as well. Taking a minute to observe herself, she found her back absolutely drenched in the mans blood, and her once beautiful white undergarment, which she had taken to wearing around when she grew tired of enormously clumsy dresses, was soaked in the thick liquid. Marle also took a moment to notice the red bleeding into her blondish hair, and her arms were also smeared with the blood where the soldier had grabbed her. Wiping it away, she realized that the scrapes from her fall were still on her skin. Not healing the wounds completely had cost her, because if the knight had been infected with the disease, and his blood was now daubing her fresh cuts, then that meant
Really, Lucca, you dont have to look after me like this. I do have my own mother.
Lucca pointed her finger down to the side of her bed, which she had given up so that Crono could sleep on. Crono, what is that? Lucca asked impatiently.
Its a bucket, why?
Lucca fumed, Its a five gallon bucket, and its overflowing with your vomit. Dont act like something isnt wrong here, she sighed. I hate it when you try to act all macho when you know youre in trouble.
Alright, Crono admitted, I am feeling a little uneasy, but I really dont want to think about that. Whatd you do with Marle?
I sent her back to the castle to take care of some business. Here, stand up for a minute, Lucca commanded. Crono obeyed, and stood on a scale that Lucca had set up for him. Well, the good news is that youve lost that excess fat, but fifteen pounds in just a few hours isnt healthy.
Excess fat? Come on, Lucca, Im a lean, fit, 170 pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal. Crono joked, smiling despite his illness.
Well, now youre pale, frail, and down to 155, the inventor corrected. Lay back in bed, cover yourself up, and try not to vomit up my soup this time. And before you think about smarting off, its because you really are sick, not because my cooking is that bad.
Crono sighed as his friend left the room, and ate the soup, somehow managing to keep it down this time. Lucca went downstairs to go over the information that she had discovered so far. Three people had gone down from the sickness that she knew about, probably more than that. The pathogen was quite possibly a parasite, but a virus or a strain of bacteria seemed just as likely. The only problem about it being a virus or a bacterium was that viruses and bacteria didnt rip someones insides apart like what had happened to the kiwala. If it acted in humans as it did in the kiwala, then sooner or later, Crono would become delusional and hysterical, before his chest split open and left his rotten contents all over her bed. Of course, she would have to do the laundry afterward, but she couldnt worry about that yet. She uttered a few curses under her breath as she wiped out a few of the dishes that she had used to serve her sickly acquaintance, using gloves for precaution. Whatever this disease was, she didnt want to have anything to do with it.
After replacing the puke pail at the foot of the bed that Crono was attempting to rest in, and taking some crap from him about, as he had said it, Tricking a muscular hero into sleeping in your bed, she went back downstairs. This time, as Lucca tried to figure out what they could have done in the past to create this disease, a sharp knock penetrated through the thick wood on her door. She answered it to find a messenger wearing formal garments, including the Royal Crest of Guardia, standing alone in the grass.
Are you Miss Lucca Ashtear? He inquired.
Lucca nodded her head, Yeah, thats me. What do you need?
I have a message for you, directly from the king. The messenger pulled out a slab of paper, and began reading. Princess Nadia requests your immediate presence in her room of the castle. She says that this urgent message is of utmost importance, and that you must hurry.
Luccas mind ran wild, trying to figure out what could be so important as to pull her away from Crono, whom she know had become violently ill. She also tried to figure out how she could possibly care for Crono while she was at the castle. It was impossible to accomplish all the tasks that she needed to do, but she came up with an idea, asking a favor of the messenger. Listen, Ive got someone that is pretty sick upstairs. I was wondering if you could possibly look after him while Im away. Dont worry about your job, Ill make sure that King Guardia knows that this is a personal favor and give him my regards. After some hesitation, the man reluctantly agreed, but told Lucca to make sure that she came back as soon as she could. Lucca grabbed her gun and headed out the door, running toward the castle. It took her no more than fifteen minutes to make it there, although she was severely winded from the journey.
The guards at the front door recognized her and allowed her to enter. After talking briefly with Marles father about the messenger, Lucca discovered that Marle was keeping to herself about why she wanted to see her. Another guard led her up the numerous flights of stairs, even though she knew her way around quite well. The soldier was then excused, and Lucca entered the door to Marles room, not bothering to knock.
Marle was lying face down on her bed, and a discarded change of her clothes sat in a heap on the floor, covered in a dry, darkish red substance that appeared to be blood. She had a fresh pair of clothes on, but from what Lucca could see, her hair had taken a beating from something, an was vigorously disheveled. She also appeared to be crying.
Marle, whats going on? Lucca asked, concerned. Her voice caused Marle to roll over to look at her, and the long streams of water on her face confirmed Luccas guess that she had been crying.
Lucca! Marle screamed, almost trembling from something. The princess forced her way off the bed and ran about halfway to her friend before dropping to her knees.
Whats wrong? What is it?
Lucca I Marle collapsed, burying her face in her hands, allowing her tears to fall freely. Lucca ran up to her, hugging the girl to comfort her. Marle responded by throwing her arms around Luccas neck and squeezing so tightly that she nearly choked the inventor. Lucca
Yes, tell me whats the matter, Lucca had become deeply worried about her friend in the last few moments.
Lucca, Im Marle paused momentarily to suck in the air she had lost from bawling. Im infected! Marle again broke down, sniffling loudly. Lucca almost fainted from the shock. Now both of her best friends had the disease, and they still didnt know what to do about it.
65 Million BC
Zorbe, are you sure you know what youre doing? The two reptites glared at each other, each waiting for the other to speak.
Azala, you want revenge for your mothers death just as much as I do. She was a great reptile, and you should be proud to carry her name, Zorbe responded.
It has nothing to do with that, Zorbe, the female reptite responded. But biological weapons? This is way beyond anything that our science has ever even dreamed of creating. I want those damn dirty apes dead just as much as everyone does, but if we screw this up, we could kill every living thing on the planet!
Azala, why should we care? her male counterpart asked. When the Black Tyranno was defeated, your mother said that our race was doomed. Theres only a few hundred of us left in the world, and if all the prophecies are true, well all be gone within a few years. We might as well take all of them out, too.
Azala sighed. I guess youre right, Zorbe. How is our little virus coming along?
If I can get a few test subjects, then we can start the last stage of the project. If it works, we can unleash the bug on the human population within a few weeks. Azala smiled deviously, and began laughing at the thought of the dirty apes dying in agony. They would all pay the ultimate price for messing with the reptites.
Ill send out some troops, Azala suggested. Ill tell them to bring back some humans, good and alive. You can begin your testing as soon as they get back. Azala II had become the leader of the reptites as soon as her mother had died, and as young as she was, along with the great trouble that her people were undergoing, she had done a fairly good job. The young reptilian looked over at Zorbe, and he gazed back at her as well. As long as we have to wait around for my troops to get back, Azala smiled, Why dont we do something productive. Maybe we can make our species survive a little longer, if we increase the population enough. Zorbe beamed with delight as Azala said this, and decided that he would do everything in his power to please his queen.
Ayla, it get colder every day. Me need bigger loincloth, Kino whined.
Kino, you no need bigger loincloth. What you have for loincloth, it more than you ever need, Ayla countered. The two of them were out near the Mystic Mountain, searching desperately for food, which had become needed more than ever in the last few months. They soon came to a small clearing, and a medium sized creature was lying on the ground, hurt.
Kino, look! Ayla shouted. Wounded dinosaur. We kill, all eat, make today good day. The young raptor had broken its leg, probably by falling off a low, nearby cliff, and the lizard whimpered in pain. Kino quickly dove behind a rock for cover, and Ayla climbed into the treetops. Kino pulled out a large spear with a head made of a pointy stone, and Alya held out a large wooden club, prepared to jump and strike at any time.
Ayla, now! Kino yelled, simultaneously hurtling the rock hiding him. The caveman held his spear tightly in front of him as he charged forward, and Ayla leapt from her treetop camouflage into the sky, extending the club over her head. She reached the wounded dinosaur first, and brought her arms down, swinging the club with all her power. The thickened wood connected with the skull of the animal, and the impact cracked the tough bone in several places. The raptor had not been knocked out, however, and moved its head to the side, attempting to bite the woman. At that moment, Kino arrived from the other side and drove the head of his weapon into the neck of the dinosaur. It immediately reacted to the pain by roaring in agony. Ayla swung the club again and hit it in the side of the head again, disorienting it further. Kino stabbed the lizard a second time, and this attack fell through the rough scaly skin, piercing the heart. Another hit in the head from Ayla, and the animal was down for good.
Good work, Kino, Ayla complimented. We take back to Ioka now. Grab feet and drag. Kino obeyed his chief, and they proceeded to trudge through the dirt and mud of the forest underbrush. Food had become more and more scarce in the last month, and they took every opportunity they had, not bothering to store any extra food, since they never had any extra. Ayla stopped briefly at a puddle of water to wipe the raptors blood off her hands, and Kino mimicked her. Other than that, it was a typical and very straightforward journey back to the village.
When they arrived, everyone on hand gathered around, excited to be having food. A fire was lit soon after in the meeting site, and preparations were made accordingly. Another hunting group had killed at least a dozen frogs, and the food was distributed evenly. Some of the other groups had not come back, but they were typically gone for two to three days, so no one became alarmed. Everyone on hand had a very good night, complete with partying and dancing. Ayla, exhausted, eventually made her way back to her hut and fell asleep almost immediately.
Her slumber was interrupted suddenly when a distressed villager rushed into her shelter. Chief! We have problem! Screamed the frantic individual.
Ayla groggily opened up her eyes, noticing the only source of light came from a torch that the caveman held. What wrong? Ayla sleepy, the chief reported.
I part of hunting group. We were attacked.
Ayla became alert instantly, as well as concerned. What happen? Who attack you? Tell Ayla, now!
The villager trembled uncontrollably as he forced the words from his lips, Reptites. Too many of them to handle. We try fight back, but we lose. Many killed, all others taken by reptites, but me escape and come back here.
Where they take? Ayla demanded.
Me dont know, it dark, hard to see.
Show Ayla where attacked. We go there, maybe we find where they go. Then rescue everyone. Ayla began considering getting a whole group of people together to rescue them. She also tried to understand why the reptites would attack them now, after most of them had given up all hope. It would be difficult to find the place at night, but she was going to try anyway.
Ayla woke up Kino and told him to watch over Ioka while she was gone, and assembled a half dozen men and women to go with her. The sole survivor of the attack led them to the place where the assault had taken place by following his own footsteps. Eventually, in a secluded grove, all the footsteps blurred together on the sandy earth, included the footprints of those that werent human. Ayla recognized them as belonging to the reptites immediately, and not long after, one of the women discovered a few dead bodies hidden in the bushes. Only one body was that of their enemies, and his skull had been shattered. The rest were human, scorched by fire so hot that their skin had melted or bubbled in some places. Large areas of the ground were charred blacker than the night itself, and several larger dinosaur footprints overshadowed those of the humans and reptites.
Ayla, cant follow footprints in dark, One complained. We wait till morning, then we follow. Ayla grunted in frustration, but eventually agreed.
All sleep in trees. Maybe there still reptites here. They no find us then, Ayla commanded. The tribesmen and tribeswomen obeyed the orders of their leader, hiding to avoid the fate of their comrades.
Zorbe, with his hands sealed in protective hand coverings, played with bizarre chemicals in glass jars frequently. This is the exact same thing that he was doing when Queen Azala the Second wandered into the room. Azala, give my regards to your men. These apes are as close to healthy as apes can be called, Zorbe stated.
Have you started testing this manufactured disease on them as of yet? Azala asked, seemingly annoyed.
If you can wait about two minutes, you can watch me do it, Zorbe replied. He called for two assistants, and they were told to fetch one of the humans from his cage and to bring him into the test room. Azala, this thing is suited specifically for their Deoxyribonucleic Acid, so it should work very well. All we have to do is pour this liquid containing the virus on an open cut. Would you like to do the honors of ripping a hunk of ape flesh off for me?
Absolutely, Azala replied, pulling out a dagger from under her robes. Just after she responded, the two assistants dragged a chained up, screaming woman about twenty years of age into the room and forced her onto the table. They placed her face down, and they used some sturdy ropes to secure her shackles to the underside of the table. A couple of the ropes were tied completely around the table and her waist and shoulders, fastened so tight that the human could no longer move. A cloth was put in her mouth to muffle her scream. Zorbe walked over and tore her top piece of animal hide off her body to allow complete access to her back. The woman struggled as much as she could until one of the assistants gave her a hard punch in the face. A steady stream of blood poured out of her nose and onto her gagged mouth. The half nude human became still, wimpering silently. Azala walked over and placed the tip of the dagger on the base of the womans neck, gazing down at her. The skin on her naked back became full of goose bumps, and she shivered in uncertainty and fear. Azala grit her teeth and drove the blade about a half of an inch into the bottom of the humans neck, and the blood began oozing out instantaneously. Azala pulled her arm backward, dragging it all the way down to the small of her back, slowly and deliberately. The rough skin tore rather easily, and the knife dug a long, narrow trench down the backside of the womans torso. This trench flooded immediately with the thick red blood, and spilled onto her body. Her shrill, tortured shrieks were deafening and distinct, even coming through the cloth that had been used to gag her. Azala removed the dagger and discarded it, and Zorbe poured the liquid containing the disease up and down the open wound on the human. The liquid also contained a few preservation chemicals, and when they hit the deep gash, they burned terribly. The woman screamed even more horribly, and the assistant again smacked her in the face. Zorbe waited for the liquid to settle, then told his assistants to take the woman back to the cell. The ropes bounding her were ripped off, and she was thrown off the table, still bleeding profusely. Zorbe picked up the cloth that was previously used to cover her now exposed breasts, and placed it on the wound to wipe the blood off and contain it. Seconds later, she was out of the room.
Humans are even uglier when theyre naked. I wonder how the males can even be attracted to things like that. Flopping around uncontrollably, their mammary glands seem to be more of a burden than anything else, Zorbe observed. If my predictions are right, all the others should catch onto the virus pretty fast.
Marle, your father would rather have you at the castle than at my house, Lucca explained. Marle shook her head.
He doesnt know that I have the sickness. Besides, those castle doctors are too overly protective. Im better off staying with you, the princess said. Where are you going to put me?
Lucca thought about that for a minute, and then replied, Certainly not in the same room as Crono. I dont care how sick he is, hell still try to pull something funny.
Marle giggled, Crono would never well, it is Crono. I guess we cant really trust him that much.
Lucca chuckled as well, Yeah. Anyway, Ill probably put you in my parents bedroom for now. They wont be back for another few days.
Lucca opened up the door to her house and yelled for the soldier that she had told to stay with Crono. She wasnt too worried when no one answered. Lucca also yelled for Crono, but no response came. The two moseyed up to Luccas room, hoping to find some sign of the messenger somewhere. When they opened the door to the room, they did find a sign of him, but it was not what they wanted.
The messenger was lying on the floor, his eyes rolled back into his head. There was no pulse and breathing had stopped long before. The most disturbing sight, however, was Cronos Rainbow. The magical sword had been driven directly through his heart, severing the aorta and puncturing the right artery. It was also lodged deep into the floorboards. Blood covered the mans entire chest area, and deep crimson stains had soaked their way into the wood below their feet. Luccas bed, where Crono should have been, was empty, and the window nearest to the bed had shattered, with pieces of glass lying on the floor. Marle screamed before Lucca.
Why is Cronos sword stuck inside of a royal messenger!?!? Where the hell is Crono!?
It looks like Crono got out of bed and killed the messenger, and then jumped out the window and ran away, Lucca thought aloud. But Crono? Does he have it in him? And why would he do it?
I am dedicating this chapter to Garth Manheim, who ended his own life this summer. I didnt know Garth, but news of this tragedy touched me nonetheless. No life is without its meaning, and nothing in Gods will is without purpose. Rest easy, Garth, and may the light show you the way.
My left eye may be cloudy, but the sun is shining brightly in my right.
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