Chrono Continuum Chapter 70

Icy Descent

By Cain

1999 AD

As Epoch flew through the wind and snow, one of its passengers couldn't help but let out a sigh.

Marle looked down on the icy terrain below her, a blank icy white. It reminded her of her adventures so long ago, of Death Peak. Of the resurrection of the man who would eventually become her husband, Crono. Every once in a while, she would begin to think about him, and Rakin, how much she missed them. She chuckled a bit as she thought that she'd even be happy to see Magus, if only to get information on the two most important men in her life.

Shaking her head to clear her mind, she turned her attention toward the upcoming mission. It had been a long time since she'd actually gone into life threatening danger, taking the offense. Usually danger came to her, and she'd defend herself, but this was different. It was her choice whether she wanted to go or not. But she had no intention of changing her mind.

Even if she were never to find her husband and son, she would at least severely hobble the ones who had taken them from her. But she couldn't afford to think like that. I will find you, she silently vowed for the hundredth time this day alone.

She shivered, the cold of the outside world seeping in through the glass canopy, and through her thin clothes. She almost wished she had kept on her regal dress, but she had figured that it wasn't suitable to battle. Lucca had taken her to the Beginning of Time, where they found a replica of Marle's old outfit, that fit perfectly. Obviously, Thanatos had foreseen that she'd change her clothes. Marle shivered again, but not from the cold. How did he know all that he did? Had he known Frog would die?

Keep your mind on the mission, she told herself. Her attention shifted to the man in the front seat, Dalton. Over time, he had grown much quieter, and she didn't know if it was a result of his time with the Kingdom, or the Hell Rot. Or maybe he was upset that Crono, as close friends as they had become, had been captured. In any case, she found it preferable to his personality from centuries ago.

Without warning, Epoch's altitude began to lower, taking them closer to the ice below. Softly, they touched down on the snowy ground, making a crunching noise as snow flakes were crushed beneath the wheels. Marle looked around seeing only snow and sky.

"Um, Dalton," she called, getting his attention, "Thanatos said the Generator was inside an iceberg. There's no water anywhere nearby, so why are we here?"

"The iceberg's here, all right. It'll just take a bit of effort to get there."

"So... Where is it?"

"We're on it right now. The magical nature of the Generator caused the iceberg to become an ice magnet, drawing ice from nearby, until it took on the size of an island, which we're on now. You should've paid more attention to Lucca's reconnaisance report."

Dalton pushed a button, and the canopy slid open, allowing a blast of arctic wind to assail the two Travelers. Dalton jumped out, and Marle, after being wished good luck by Epoch, followed. The canopy closed behind them.

Taking out a pair of binoculars, Dalton looked around through the snow, trying to get their bearings, as Marle hopped from foot to foot, trying not to freeze to death. Eventually, Dalton nodded, and put away his binoculars. Wrapping himself in his cape for protection against the wind, he began to trudge through the snow, and Marle followed, hoping he wasn't as lost as she was.

By the time Dalton finally came to a halt, it seemed to Marle that they'd been walking for hours, though she knew it wasn't even too many minutes. They stopped right by a hill that had no significance to Marle, looking exactly like every hill they'd passed.

She looked at Dalton to ask why they were here, but she could see he was concentrating. With a yell, he cast his hand toward the hill, and snow was blown away by some invisible force. He did it again and again, each time revealing more of an opening behind the snow, until Marle could see an icy cave leading off out of sight, into darkness.

Dalton gestured for her to follow him as he pulled out what Marle recognized as a flashlight. Together, they ventured into the cave, Dalton's flashlight probing the floor for discrepancies. Eventually, they came to the end of the cave. The light from the flashlight jumped all around the area, until it settled on what looked like a loose rock in the wall of the cave.

Dalton walked over, and hit the rock with the butt of his flashlight. The rock sank back into the wall, and Dalton quickly stepped back as a metal cylinder rose up out of the floor. Once the cylinder was taller than either of them, it stopped.

"What's that," Marle asked Dalton.

"An elevator, leading down to the Generator."

"How did you know about that? If that had been in Lucca's reconnaisance report, I would have caught it."

"You forget, I was part of the Kingdom. Although teleportation was a fairly common spell in Zeal, few in the Kingdom could master it. So, I figured they'd have some sort of easily accessible entrance, but one that was hidden. So, let's go," he told her, and pressed a button on the side of the elevator. Twin doors slid away, revealing a small room, only big enough for one person, or two really skinny people, to stand comfortably. A small lamp at the top illuminated the empty space.

Marle raised an eyebrow. "So which of us is going first," she asked, crossing her arms.

"We'll go at the same time," Dalton replied.

"My husband's only missing a few weeks, and you try to situate yourself in a small room with me, huh," she asked jokingly. At Dalton's lack of response, she playfully slapped his shoulder. "Oh, come on. You used to have a sense of humor."

Dalton raised an eyebrow. "Most things are funnier when you're so drunk you're seeing double. Maybe if we both survive this ordeal, you can bring my sense of humor back."

Before Marle could react to the cryptic remark, Dalton stepped into the elevator, putting away his flashlight and gesturing for Marle to follow. Marle sighed, and stepped in as well, her chest brushing with Dalton's as she tried to squeeze in. Ignoring the slight blush on Marle's cheeks, Dalton reached over her shoulder, and pressed a small button. The doors slid shut, and there was a slight jump as the elevator began to descend.

Marle noticed that the heat was progressively rising. The Generator must have heating, she thought. That was good at least. She didn't want to freeze to death while taking the Generator out.

She cried out in surprise as the elevator came to an abrupt halt, knocking her forward into Dalton. She looked up at him to apologize, but he didn't seem to have noticed. He had a far-off look on his face, as if in deep thought. He looked down to see her looking up at him.

"I'll check to see if it's safe," he told her, and reached over her shoulder to press the button to open the doors. They slid open silently, and Dalton forced his way out.

Instantly, he turned, reached over to the wall by the elevator, and pressed a button. Marle cried out in surprise as the doors slid shut. "What's going on," she yelled through the doors.

She heard Dalton's voice, loud and clear, come from a device she hadn't noticed before, embedded in the ceiling of the elevator. "I apologize, Marle," he told her, "but I have no choice."

"What are you talking about," Marle asked, frightened.

"Do you have any idea what it feels like to know that you're going to spend your last days rotting? Piece by piece, falling off, until you're nothing but a skull, a brain, and some skin. I made a mistake ever leaving the Kingdom, and I'm rectifying it right now."

Marle gasped as two nozzles stuck out of the ceiling, and purple gas began to float into the small chamber. Marle frantically pushed the button to open to doors, but got not response. "Dalton, stop this! Please! I trusted you!"

"You shouldn't have," he replied calmly. "I've been notifying the Kingdom of our whereabouts and your plans the whole time. That's why the Hellbound were waiting for your friends in the Fire and Water Generators, and how they knew we were in the cabin. You should never trust a traitor."

Marle tried to respond, to plead with him, but she suddenly felt very tired. She sank to the floor soundlessly, into a sitting position with her back against the wall.

After a moment, grates opened inside the elevator, sucking out all the gas. The doors slid open, revealing four figures standing outside.

"Isss she dead," a humanoid lizard creature asked his companions.

A blonde woman wearing white wolf furs shook her head. "No, merely asleep. She'll wake up soon."

A man with short black hair and light black armor smiled. "I hope so. I want to have some fun..."

Dalton shook his head. "Whatever. Just leave me out of it." And he walked down the hall, leaving Marle to the Hellbound.


"Oh, the tangled webs we weave
When we practice to deceive."
- Sir Walter Scott


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