Chrono Shift Chapter 5

Follow The Path That Leads

By Tool23X

Augur sat alone in the cold room.  He nervously awaited the verdict that would soon come from his colleagues.  Augur had to admit that he was having doubts about the whole idea, with all the risks and uncertainties that it held, but at the same time he knew that it had to be done.  He tried his best not to think about the odds.

He had been sitting there for several hours.  He had no idea what was taking so long in the assembly room, and furthermore, he had no idea what the final decision would be, although if he had to bet, his chances didn’t look favorable.  He had promised the group that he would not leave this room, but boredom was beginning to get the better of him.  At Enhasa, decisions were not made promptly, but at least the voting could be done quickly.  There must be some sort of argument, Augur thought.  Why else would this take so long?

“I thought that you would be ready to kill after waiting all this time.”  Augur snapped out of his thoughts to see Tajj, Kraigh, and Glock standing in front of him, just watching.  Augur wondered why he had not heard them come in.  Glock wasn’t exactly the stealthy type.

Unable to wait any longer, Augur insisted, “So, what’s the answer?  Tell me what’s going to happen.”

“Well, unfortunately, not many of us are as strong minded as you are, Augur.  They weren’t willing to risk themselves just to help you on some wild goose chase.  The official vote tally was eight to three opposing allowing you to travel to the center of the heavens to see the Deity.” Kraigh remarked.

“So who voted in favor of the proposition?”

“The three of them are standing in front of you.” Tajj replied.  

Augur turned away.  He figured that this would be the outcome of the vote.  In the pit of his stomach there had been a feeling of dread, as if he knew the future and couldn’t do anything to prevent it.  Now, when the apocalypse of truth rained down on him, he could no longer control his emotions.  He picked up a loose rock from the ground below him, and turned to chuck it as hard as he could against the wall.  It left a permanent dent in the spongy stone.  “Get out of here!” he exclaimed.  “Leave me be!”

Augur had his back turned, and he did not see Tajj and Kraigh leave.  He also did not see Glock opting to stay.  Glock had a few things to say before he would depart.  “You know, I agree with you.  And I want to help you.  The lavae are consuming the entire universe.  We do not know how far they will reach into space, but if they come here, they have a good chance of destroying the Afterlives as well.  Everything that ever existed could potentially be erased and tumble into the Tesseract.  That’s why I feel the same way you do.  It is wrong, even criminal, to sit back and watch everything be decimated when you know that you can make an impact.  That’s why I am going to go against the wishes of the council and help you find the Holy Gate.”

Augur’s anger quickly evaporated, transforming itself into pure astonishment.  “What?  Are you serious?” 

“Yes.  Finding the gate that will take you to the Deity will not be easy, but I believe it is what must be done.  Plus, I’ll do anything to piss those guys off.”

“Do you have any idea where this portal is?  We can’t just go around randomly searching for this thing.”

“Well,” Glock expressed, “It’s a long and pointless story about how I came across all this information.  But it mentioned that all the Holy Gates are in the chambers of the gods.  The chamber here should be dormant.  If it is like the other stars, then we should be able to travel through the tunnels until we reach the center of this Afterlife, where the gate should lie.  Accessing it, however, is a problem that will be exceedingly intricate, and deciphering it may be next to impossible.”

“Did you think that the difficulty of this mission would make me shy away from it?” Auger inquired.

“No.  I just wanted to give you the facts.  Now let’s get moving before someone comes looking for us.  I don’t believe that they would know where to look for us if we got enough of a head start.”

“Agreed. Lead the way.”

The labyrinth of tunnels that lay under their feet seemed endless.  At many times Augur wondered whether or not Glock really knew where he was going.  Somewhere between the tedious spirals and loops they would find the Holy Gate, if they weren’t lost beyond all hope.  But the trip was anything but dull.  Augur had always believed that the spongy red granite went all the way to the center of the Afterlife, but to his surprise, and his delight, the scenery changed as often as the pair changed directions in the vast, seemingly infinite caverns.  There were an abundance of colors littering the walls, from vibrant neon to dreary pales.  The rocks often changed their luster, with some being shiny and glittering, and others plain. 

Even though the rocks were indeed interesting, it’s impossible to be fascinated by stone for more than an hour, much less the several hours that they had spent journeying.  The only sounds around them were their footsteps for the longest time.  Neither Augur nor Glock felt like talking at the outset of the mission, and this was partially because they did not want to be discovered.  But now Augur considered starting a conversation to drive him back from the brink of madness.  As if he were reading Augur’s mind, Glock initiated one.  “Long journey.”  It was just small talk, but everything had to start somewhere.

“Yeah.”  Augur almost tripped on a loose pebble on the ground.  “Do you have any idea how much further we have to go?”

Glock looked at the young adult.  “Well, I’d say that we’ve got about 2,500 hours worth of work left to do.  We had better keep going.  By now they have probably realized that we ditched ‘em.  If they catch up to us, we’ll never get there.”

Augur smoldered, but he knew that he had a job to do.  He didn’t plan on living in this place forever, or until one of the malicious parasites managed to make its way to the heavens and destroyed his home again.  No, that would not be acceptable.  Augur brainstormed about all the ways he could cause damage to the beast once he resurfaced on Earth.  He comprehended that some humans in the future had destroyed the creature, but just because Lavos was guaranteed to die didn’t make Augur hate it any less.  Augur pushed on extensively.  “Do you really know how to get there, Glock, or are we just kind of wandering around aimlessly?”

“Well, it’s a little bit of each.  I have a super-compass built into my brain.  Everyone in my species has one.  Since the Holy Gate is supposed to be located at the center of each Afterlife, I know which direction that we have to travel.”

Augur remained silent.  He could no longer turn back, and he would have to brave the expedition, even if it was going to take two and a half months without stopping.  On the other hand, his pursuers needed to make the same voyage, and maybe they would take a break and he could put more distance towards him.  The absence of fatigue and insomnia in this world did have its advantages.  As he continued down the path, his mind wandered constantly, thinking of anything he could to put a mask on his boredom.  Glock and Augur told stories about their homeworlds.  Glock came from a planet where there were two dominant species.  His ruled the land, and the others ruled the sea.  They had made treaties with each other, and in some cases, even intermingled for long periods in their history.  The majority of the time, however, was spent with the two classes engaged in an immaculate arms race.  It was not for reasons of war, but rather for bragging rights between which of the creatures were superior.  This eventually led them to the discovery of a lavos in the core of the planet.  They combined their power to try and destroy it, but instead they only managed to weaken the outer shell.  The lavos awoke, and released its ferocious death across the biosphere, destroying everything.  Glock’s story interested Augur, but like all of the stories involving the lavae, they ended depressingly tragic.

Augur and Glock continued to hike.  It was not long before either of them had even the foggiest idea of how long they had been at their trip.  They would take turns telling their stories along the way.  It helped to keep their minds clear of what was ahead of them.  After the first hundred or so hours, the walking became completely natural.  Augur did not even realize he was walking any more.  Glock had now told stories about everyone else in the group that they were now attempting to elude.  He made mention of the problems in each of their worlds, talked about their families, and described the efforts that each creature had taken to try and stop the lavos that inhabited their planet.  All this time, the two drew nearer and nearer to their destination.  

“Augur,” Glock interrupted the recent silence.  “There are some more things that you should know about the time distortions before you go back.  Before we figured it would be of no use to tell you, but since you will be heading home, and since I’ve run out of stories, I figure that I might as well tell you.”

“Okay.  Sure.  Why not?”

“Let’s see here, where do I begin…  I believe that we may have made reference about major changes that occur in the timestream.  I can’t recall if we told you about the alternate dimensions or not.  Anyway, when major changes do occur, they create these separate dimensions.  It’s kind of like having two different places at the same time at the same spot, but these two places have no connection with each other, do not even know about the other one.  One such alternate dimension was created when a lavos first crashed into your planet.  At that time, an intelligent race of hybrid dinosaurs known as the reptites ruled the earth.  This was a major event in history, but only formed an alternate dimension because of the time waves that circumnavigated the globe when Lavos impacted itself into the ground.  In one alternate dimension, the true form of your world, evolved reptites lived harmoniously with nature for millions of years, with no interference from the lavos, and therefore, existed in a single timeline.  In your timeline, the flow has been split several different dimensions because of the existence of the lavos and the effects of time that it carried with it.  One occurred when the group of teenagers first defeated Lavos in 1,999 AD.  One timeline was the ruined future that Lavos destroyed, and one was the new and hopeful future.  However, these people knew too much about time and Lavos.  They had to make sure that any more t! ime changes would not occur, so they developed the FATE computer to control everyone’s lives.  FATE implanted thoughts and ideas into people’s heads that would ensure that no major changes occurred.  They did this to the two main timelines that would affect the world they were now living in. 

“Each planet has its own spirit, yours is known as Gaia.  The planet itself is really its own life form.  It uses fate in the traditional sense.  Everything happens in a certain way unless time is distorted.  If time is distorted, it does nothing to stop it, but rather just lets the problems occur and attempts to iron them out later, which usually diverts all paradoxes.  The FATE computer somehow monitors the past and does comphensate for the many changes that occur in time, even as they occur.  But the scientists at the research center became too greedy.  They attempted to gain unrestricted control of time, which would allow them to eliminate the other timelines and heal the planet forever.  The device contained several machines used for the purpose of mimicking the Chrono artifacts, which was their only way of succeeding since the real artifacts could not be found.  It also contained the Frozen Flame, which was a piece of the energy force contained in Lavos.  Apparently, Lavos still had some control over the remainder of its life essence, and, using all its power, the Frozen Flame corrupted the experiment at the last second, causing what became known as the Time Crash.  The city of Chronopolis was hurtled from the year 2,400 AD to 7,600 BC, ten thousand years in the past.  The people created a fake world to live in, and secluded it from the outside, but before they erased their memories and moved into it something else happened, which is yet to be explained by any of ! us.  Some how, the descendants of the reptites managed to move a massive tower into this timeline, crossing the dimensional plane.  The reptites were ruled by the Dragon God, which FATE managed to split into six separate entities, each containing their own elemental magic.  There was a mighty battle between the humans and the reptites, and in the end the humans won out, because the reptiles lived peacefully with the earth and had no need for wars or their weapons.  FATE made sure that this battle did not cause another timeline to form, and then erased the minds of the humans that inhabited the research center.  Before any recollections could be removed from the humans, they created strange spectre-like creatures to run the lab and ensure no major malfunction.  The thing we don’t understand is why the reptites suddenly crossed into the human dimension.  The theory we have is that time has become so distorted that on your world the dimensions are actually merging for some reason.  The other guess is that there may be a way to travel between the two alternate realities.  We cannot be sure.  This has been the only instance so far that we can be sure of, but more could soon occur, or may have already occurred.

“One night, a different teenage boy, girl, and their friends were tricked by the six Dragon Gods to destroy the FATE computer.  From this point on, everything was in the hands of the humans.  Gaia had lost its control on the fate of the world long ago.  This allowed the major change to take place with the misfiring of the Chrono Shift, which was the hand that pushed your teetering world over the edge.  Gaia succumbed to the crisis infused into her psyche, and gave up her life.”

The story completely bewildered Augur.  He was at an absolute loss for words.  “If I stopped the Chrono Shift, would it help mend time, or would it only create yet another alternate timeline?”

“That, I do not know the answer to.  Most of the information has been presented to me.  Compared to the rest of us here, I am low on the totem pole of intellect.”  Glock responded.

“I have another question.  I always thought that Lavos brought magic into this world?  And if the Dragon Gods first appeared in my future, then how did it get into Zeal?”

“Lavos did bring you the magic, but it was a different form of magic.  Through the various ventures through the holes in time, the color-based nature elements were somehow placed into the past, and your Kingdom adopted them.  The magic made by lavae is purely elemental, and, in the end, much more powerful in the hands of one who has a true mastery of it.”

After this exchange, both of them walked in silence for what seemed to be forever.  Augur had quickly gotten used to his head spinning around trying to comprehend bundles of new information all at once.  Trying to sort things out, he began to question whether stopping this accident that occurred in his future would really change anything, or if it would just bring on more trouble.  Even if he did change the world, if he could save it from destruction and make it a better place, how many lives must be eliminated to accomplish his dream?  And how long would the new future last before another time distortion ruined it again?  Perhaps this was why the others had all warned him about not going back.  They knew that in the end, his efforts would be fruitless.  Eventually, as they had mentioned, he would be damning himself to the darkness that lies between time, the so-called Tesseract. 

But Augur also knew that he had come so far, and it wouldn’t be fair to his friends if he just gave up on them.  Even though he knew the result would be catastrophic, he still had to try. 

“Augur, we’re almost there.”  Augur heard the voice, but did not pay any attention.  Just how long had he been lost in his thought, in his ideals?  Augur understood now that ideals were just that--ideals.  They had no real chance of becoming reality.  But as he turned the corner to the room that would begin his quest to his home, he once again told himself that he could never look at himself without disgust if he did not go.  So Augur took the final step into the room with the Holy Gate, and he saw that Tajj and company had somehow managed to beat him there. 

“Kietu Sarai Omias Zuv Dora Flios Veeroi Hazyr…” Tajj smirked.  Augur knew he had heard that phrase before, but he could not remember where. 

“Just what in the hell is going on here?”  Glock demanded. 

Kraigh stared the beast straight in the eyes.  “Your defiant enough that you’ve become predictable.  I was almost positive that you would take him here, and unfortunately for you, we got here first.”

“What do you plan to do?”  Augur asked the group. 

“Well,” Kraigh continued, “We are going to stop you from activating that gate at all costs.  You do know that we could all be thrown into the Tesseract.  That’s why we voted against it.  We sincerely doubted that you would be able to actually turn it on, but that wasn’t a risk we were willing to take.  So, are you going to come back quietly, or are we going to have to force you back?”

Augur reached behind his back.  It did turn out positively that his rapiers had been transported to this place with them.  It would make this job a little more convenient.  Even though he would not be able to kill them, he could immobilize them temporarily, which would hopefully be long enough to activate the Holy Gate and jump in.  The only thing that puzzled him was the absence of the gate.  It was nowhere to be found, and he had no idea how he could initiate it. 

“Don’t think that you’re the only one that decided to bring weapons here, boy!”  The light from the inside of Halkin’s head lit up the room, and he could see two members of legion had nice looking toys that reminded Augur of the blaster that was on Gunner’s arm, and one more had a nasty looking blade. 

“Run, Augur,” Glock yelled.  “Find the gate!  Open it!  I’ll hold them off!”

“Where do I go?”

“Anywhere!  We’ve only got one chance at this!”

Augur drew his swords and darted to the side.  A shockwave of energy from one of the guns flew overhead, and melted some of the rock, which was now a dirty silverish color.  He could hear the sounds of battle echo behind him, but kept running around the immense cavern hoping that he could find the gate somehow.  One of the creatures was now screeching, but Augur could not tell who it was.  He did not care, either.  A few rocks from the walls crumbled in from another blast from one of the guns.  Augur lost footing for just a second, and tripped on the loose peddles.  He rolled to try and regain his balance, and he saw the dangerous Verd charging toward him, full speed, using all eight legs.  Augur again rolled, this time to dodge the downward swing of the giant hands that belonged to this beast.  The spikes on his palms grabbed a bit of hair, just enough to make Augur’s scalp burn.  He counterattacked by swinging one sword sideways while still on the ground, and managed to connect with the side of Verd.  Because of the nature of this place, no blood was drawn with the gash.  Instead, a large part of Verd’s midsection seemed to completely disappear, while strange black energy worked on closing it up.  Augur understood the healing power of this place.  He could be decapitated and his head would eventually find its way back onto the shoulders.

Augur used the brief moment to get back on his feet.  He cast a quick water spell.  Nothing happened.  Augur tried again.  Still nothing.  Why the hell wouldn’t his magic work?

As if Verd were a mind reader, the gruff voice growled, “The magic exists only where great magical entities inhabit the land.  There’s none of that here.  You can only use magic where you can draw it from the environment around you.  It’s just you and me, hand-to-hand, little squirt.  Come get some, Shrimp!”

Augur turned and bolted toward the giant, thrusting one rapier deep into the ground and using it to elevate his body.  Augur escalated through the air and planted his feet right in the face of the creature.  The force sent Verd to his back, with Augur landing on top of him.  He impaled Verd’s head with the other rapier, causing another one of the eerie black wounds to develop.  Verd should have been disabled, but instead swiped across his chest, sending Augur tumbling for about twenty feet through the air.  Augur landed hard on the back of his neck, and it would have snapped had it not been for the godlike immortality that he possessed here.  That would benefit him, but getting through ten of these animals without being able to kill them would be difficult. 

A gunshot rang in the distance, and Verd was once again knocked to the ground.  Looking to see where the shot had came from, Augur saw Kraigh standing before him with both of the firearms that belonged to the group that opposed him.  On his shoulder sat Tajj, dignified as ever.  To the left was Glock, holding the sharp weapon that had once belonged to one of the other members.  “We were the ones who wanted to see you go,” Kraigh said.  “Did you really think we were going to fight against you?”

“Just giving my good friend a decent chance,” Tajj added.  “You’re going to have enough trouble as it is.”

Glock sat with a look on his disfigured face that could only be one of satisfaction, probably with himself.  He looked like he was about to brag about something, most likely how he had dismantled his ‘friends’ in a savage act of war.  Augur could plainly see that not one was left standing, and it would be awhile before they were back in action.  Glock had every right to be pleased with himself, but it was a little premature.  Verd had gotten back up and tackled Glock, driving him deep into the rocks on the floor of the cave.  The power of his punches and kicks devastated him, and Verd took great pleasure in pummeling his adversary.  Glock was now down for the count, but Verd would not remove himself from the body. 

Kraigh watched the lopsided fight, then carefully aimed and fired both of the guns at the same moment.  A beam of neon blue light protruded from the first one, digging a smoking crater into the midsection of Verd.  The second gun fired multicolored waves of electricity, which caused him to tremble and shudder ruthlessly.  Verd was blown off Glock, and instantly knocked out. 

Tajj jumped off Kraigh’s shoulder.  “We really don’t have a lot of time.  Follow me.  I know how to open the Holy Gate.”  Neither Augur nor Kraigh questioned the lizard-creature.  Tajj led them to a back room through a passage in the center of the giant cavern. 

“What the hell is this!?”  All there is here is a hole in the ground!”  Augur proclaimed.

“This is the gate, Augur.”  Tajj responded.

“How am I supposed to turn it on?”

“Use your mind, Augur.  In here, the rules of the outside worlds do not apply.  Call for help from the spirits, and jump into the pit without hesitation.  All we can hope for is that the Holy Gate activates itself.  This could happen automatically, or might not happen no matter what we try.  Jump!  Let your beliefs empower you!”

Augur closed his eyes and took a deep breath.  Then he ran forward and jumped as high into the air as he could, knowing he was right above the gate.  Augur began to fall, faster and more furious than he thought he could fall (as if he could control the speed).  Augur felt energy begin to tickle the pores of his body.  Deep in the alcoves of his psyche, Augur heard Tajj.  “Good luck, my friend.  We will meet again, in some era or dimension.  This is the way of time.  Until then, retain your dreams!”

“Tajj, who are you?”  Augur shouted, knowing that he was not what he seemed, but he never heard the reply.  Mere seconds later, just like when he died, there was nothing but emptiness.


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