Chapter 37- Negotiations



2000 AD, Office of the SSAF High Commander


            Straightening himself up, Jack looked up the stairs that lead to the High Commander’s office.  Dressing in normal clothes for the first time for seemingly forever, his jeans and collared shirt certainly reflected what was possibly too casual a dress.  Aside him, Tristan stood, his trench-coat having been replaced by khaki pants and a hooded sweatshirt. 


            “The High Commander will see you now Captain McKlane and Captain Tenser,” the secretary said to him.  The two men nodded and climbed the stairs to reach the double oak doors.  As they opened inward, the High Commander walked up to greet them for the first time since Jack had ever walked into his office.  Certainly their help with the Lavoid Excavation had granted them so prestige in the eyes of the SSAF High Command Counsel and the High Commander himself. 


            “Welcome, Captain McKlane,” the High Commander said, saluting.  “And Captain Tenser.” 


            “Sir,” the two men said, saluting back.  Their casual dress conflicted heavily with the men wearing SSAF uniforms that filled the room, another indication of their sudden importance to the Organization.


            “I’ve been told you have something important to discuss with me,” the High Commander said.  “Please, have a seat,” he indicated to the two seats in front of his desk.  Jack and Tristan complied, sitting down.  “I would like to bring forth my thanks for your help with Project Hellreach,” he said.  “Since you helped us reach the core of that thing, we’ve made great leaps and bounds in our research, even in such a short period of time.  Our scientists have already extracted much information from the corpse of the creature.”


            “Then you probably know that it isn’t from this world,” Jack said, taking his turn to speak.


            “We’re…still not certain of it’s origin,” the High Commander admitted, “but…what do you know about it?”  Jack looked at Tristan, who nodded.


            “I guess I’ll get straight to the point,” Jack said, standing up. “I’m going to explain a few things which may sound odd and my source of knowledge may seem dubious, but I can guarantee that it is all the truth and I can prove it.”


            “Go on,” the High Commander said.


            “Okay,” Jack said, taking a deep breath.  “What you have discovered in that cavern is a member of a species known as the Lavoids.  It is, in all essence of the world, an alien, traveled from a distance star system.  It is proof of life on other worlds as well as proof of a subspace material known as Chaos.”


            “Excuse me, Captain?” the High Commander asked.


            “I’m sure that you had already had questions about it’s origins, but its likeness to a human on the inside may have lead the scientists to think that it developed on this planet and later dug itself into the earth’s core.  This is actually not the case.  In actuality, the Lavoids were developed as a race of biological weapons by humans that existed on a planet in a star system millions of light years from here.” 


            “Humans on a distant planet?” the High Commander asked.  “And a species developed as a biological weapon?  Captain, this sounds a little far fetched.”


            “Sir, I can prove my knowledge base to you.  I have come into conflict with this monster before, as you heard from my story, and my source of information is non other than from the monster itself before its demise.  In fact, my own origins run from it.”  Jack quickly pulled a syringe out of one of his pockets and jammed the needle into his arm with disturbing precision.  “While I explain this to you, examine my blood and extract my DNA.  Compare it to that of the DNA that you found on the Lavoid and you’ll know that I’m telling the truth.”  Pulling some of his blood into the collector, Jack withdrew the needle and placed it on the desk in front of him.


            “Do as he says,” the High Commander said, almost with a sense of fear of the man before him.  One of the aides walked over and removed the syringe from the desk and took it out of the room to test it in a nearby laboratory.


            “And as added proof, watch this,” Jack said, waving his arm over the point where he had inserted the needle.  Quickly, the blood that was oozing out stopped and the wound clotted and sealed.


            “What was that?” the High Commander asked, very intrigued.


            “That,” Jack said, “As hard as it is to believe, is Magic.”


            “Magic?” the High Commander asked.


            “It’s hard to explain,” Jack admitted, sitting down again.  “But there are magical energies all around us, just like Force Tech energy.  Magic is simply the manipulation of these energies.  Sir, I swear to you that I am not an average human making up this story.”


            “I’m going to try very hard to believe you, Captain,” the Commander said, becoming interested.  “Do go on.”  Jack smiled inwardly, knowing that he was gaining the belief of the High Commander.  He would go on with his information.


            Jack went on to explain everything he knew about the origins of Lavos and all of the information he could muster about Chaos.  The High Commander and the few aides in the room slowly took all of the information in over he course of he next hour or so.  Jack ran through the abilities of the Lavoid and what their goal on a planet was after their corruption by the inter-planar subspace called Chaos.  He also explained what he knew about Lavos’s defeat at the hands of Crono. 


            It was here that it came into the open that there were some historical documents regarding Crono.  It was widely known in this time that Crono was a King of Guardia and reigned from roughly 1001 to 1042 AD (Jack, of course, was unaware of this as it had only been written into history as a result of the Time Wave).   It was also known that he had accomplished some great deed in his time during a journey he went on when he was about 18 years of age.  It had never been discovered what had happened, but it did seem to fit the records that he had defeated Lavos around this time. 


            Jack even went into explanation regarding the Time of Zeal.  He began making direct references to ancient artifacts such as recovered pieces of Dreamstone that had been controlled by the government. He would have had no other way of knowing about them.  Everything seemed to line up from the High Commander’s point of view.  So, if he was telling the truth about his journey, could he be telling the truth about this life on other worlds?  Could there really be civilization on other worlds and could it be reached?  Still, more needed to be told about the Lavoids before Jack would reveal his final plan.


            “Fundamentally, they consume planets,” Jack said.  “They exist as parasites, absorbing the energies of the world and the DNA of the creatures in it.  However, they also lead the evolution of the planet along to harvest the best DNA possible.  We know, for example, that about 65,000,000 years ago, there was a sudden explosion of life on the planet.  New species appeared that had not been there before and humanity began to develop into modern day homo-sapiens.  I can promise that it was this Lavoid that created that sudden surge of genetic evolution.”


            “So they are not a bad thing,” the High Commander noted.


            “In all wrongfulness!” Jack contested, now bringing about his final point.  “They are everything but good!  After they have collected the genetic material that they need, they rise to the surface and open fire upon the inhabitants of the planet.  If you check the documents about the structure of those spikes, you’ll note that there is a large channel through each spike.  Through these, the Lavoid emits a high-powered, beam class weapon that hits it’s target with the force of a nuclear explosion!”


            “They destroy the surface?” the High Commander asked.


            “This one was killed before he could do so,” Jack said.  “If you examine the geological evidence in the area, you’ll find that the shell had surfaced for some time.”  There was a silence.


            “We already knew that…” the High Commander admitted slowly.  “The geologists said that whatever was down there had come up to the surface briefly before sinking back into the ground…”


            “It’s clear what we must do then,” Jack said slowly and grimly.


            “Captain, you can’t be suggesting that we…”


            “Precisely,” Jack said.  “We need to form a force specially trained to combat these things and then go spaceward and being a purge of the universe of these things called Lavoids.”


            “Captain, maybe I’m a bit confused, but where do you expect to find the funds for these things.  Plus, how to you intend to travel space in search of these creatures!?”


            “The travel issue is not a problem, Sir.  Such things as Magic can take care of that in ways you do not yet know, but consider the funds for a moment.  Would this not be a worthy investment of the governments funds to be doing such a credit to all forms of life in the universe?”


            “Our goal here at SSAF is not doing good things for life in the rest of the universe, Captain.  We aim to control what we have here.  We have neither the time, nor the money, nor the man power to indulge in this little fantasy of yours.”


            “Sir, you cannot ignore injustice happening before your eyes.  This is happening all over the place.  Innocent lives are being lost for no good reason.  It has to stop!”


            “That’s just the thing, Captain,” the High Commander said.  “It is not happening right before my eyes.  It’s happening millions of light years away and therefore is of no concern to us.”


            Jack had given the opportunity for humanities goodness to prevail, but apparently money truly was more important.  The High Commander would not deal with this solely for the reason of being a beneficiary to the galaxy.  No, Jack needed to pull out his big card against them.  He needed to use his big pull.  The staple human desire: money.


            “Okay, then,” Jack said.  “Think of it this way.  This Lavoid certainly proves that life exists on other planets, in other star systems.  Are you going to debate that with me?”


            “You have me convinced of that, Captain McKlane.  It would be the only logical explanation, as odd as the word ‘logical’ sounds when dealing with this issue.”


            “Then, Commander, consider for a moment the amount of foreign markets that can be opened with new connections across the stars.  Consider the increase in trade that would follow in connecting to new planets.  If we’re going to find Lavoids, we’ll probably find civilization too.  The profits could be immense.”


            “What would stop us from commencing with such trade without you and your ideas?”


            “Because you can’t travel without me or my knowledge,” Jack said.  “Because, if you recall what I iterated about Planar travel, passing physical limitation on space travel can only be accomplished using the devices which I’m designing.”


            “So what do you propose?” the High Commander said, finally getting the point.


            “We create this organization under government black op.  We receive the funding and the manpower to design and create a starship such as I’ve outlined, and we forward all profits back here, minus ship maintenance.  The Grand Counsel can even send people to monitor and conduct the trade on civilized worlds that we land on.  It’s a win-win situation.”


            The High Commander in thought for a moment as the aide who had taken Jack’s blood walked back into the room.  Walking up to the Commander and dropping the folder he was carrying on the desk, he looked like he had just seen a ghost.  “The Captain is right,” the aide said.  “Aside from a very few minor details, his genetic material is almost identical to that of the Lavoid.  Both of their DNA is almost human aside from an abnormal group of chromosomes which they share.  They’ve…begun calling this the Lavoid Factor after the name the Captain gave the species.”  The room was silent again.


            The High Commander slowly looked up at Jack who was standing, waiting for an answer.  The Commander lowered his head.  “Captain,” he said slowly.  “I’ll have your ideas forwarded to the Grand Counsel when we meet this Friday.”  Jack smiled.


            “Thank you, Sir!” he said, saluting.  Tristan also rose and saluted as well. 


            “Wait, a moment,” the High Commander added.  The two men paused.  “What shall we call it?” he asked.


            “How about…” Jack thought for a moment.  “The Lavoid Exterminatorum Adeptus,” he said.  “Taking words from ancient Zealian.”


            “Then the LEA it is,” The High Commander said with a nod.  “You two are dismissed.”  Saluting again and turning on their heels, the two men left the room, victorious in the labors of negotiation.




            Having seemingly secured the creation of his new idea, Jack realized that there wasn’t time to waste in beginning the brainstorming behind the idea.  While the general concept was still there, the issue of travel and equipment and manpower and training still loomed over his head.  He made his way to the End of Time with Sarah and Tristan in order to train with Topik, albeit a little past the time when Topik originally wanted to work with the youth.


            Before going, he quickly scribbled down the plans for the ship which Tristan would be designing.  Seemingly influenced by futuristic science fiction shows, the Weatherlight was to be a long, sleek vessel.  The diagrams indicated merely the general design, though.  It would be up to Tristan to fill in what was missing, and there was quite a lot to be filled in.  Jack did not have a degree in aerospace engineering.  In actuality, neither did Tristan, but Jack trusted his friend to recruit the people that did.  They would receive some start up money during the design stage before the actual construction of the ship began in the orbit of Elosia at the international Space Station that had been constructed three years ago.


            Jack knew his plans were being haphazardly thrown together at the moment.  There was very little time to carefully think out the things about the LEA.  He was merely trying to get the project off the ground so that when he came back from his training, he would be ready to go towards after his first Lavoid.  But even that hadn’t been well thought out.  They didn’t know where they would be going or how they were going to get there.  Maybe Topik would be able to shed some light on that situation as well.


            Also, Jack and the others were pretty sure that killing Lavoids would require special equipment and special training.  This was yet another thing that they didn’t have on hand as all of the equipment would have to be designed and all of the training would have to be created.  Until Jack himself had a better knowledge of how to kill a Lavoid and any Lavoid based life form, they would be unable to train operatives.


            All of this left the new government agency with little to do before Jack learned what he needed to learn from the beings at the Beginning of Time.  Until then, Tristan could probably work through some preliminary design stages, but in the end, Jack needed to be there.  The only problem inherent to this, obviously, was that Jack would not be there.


            Coming out of the Time Warp on the cobblestone floor of the End of Time, Jack and others noticed that besides Gasper, there was no one else inhabiting the area.  No robot or girl or frog.  It was just the old man leaning up against the light post and the ability to contact the Beginning of Time.


            “You’re back?” Gasper said in disbelief.  “I didn’t think I’d be seeing you all again, now that Lavos is gone.  Tell me.  What brings you to my humble abode?”


            “I need to talk to Topik,” Jack said, getting straight to the point.  “…Again.”


            “Have you come around yet?” Gasper asked, seriously.


            “Let’s just say, maybe I’m beginning to accept my destiny,” Jack said.  Gasper grinned.  “I’ve had some ideas lately, and I think I finally came to the realization of what Topik wanted me for all along.”


            “No time for pleasantries, I guess.  Well, it’s about time, anyway,” Gasper said, closing his eyes.  Connecting thought to Topik, he spoke aloud what Topik said to him.  “Topik says it’s about time, too,” Gasper said.  “He’s happy you finally came around.  He wants you to come and work with him.  He says that it will take awhile, but he can redeposit you anywhere in time that you want.”


            “Anything else?” Tristan asked for Jack.


            “He says…bring the Epitorum, too,” Gasper said.  Then, as if he was asking Topik, “The Epitorum?”


            “The Epitorum…” Jack repeated the word.


            “The girl,” Gasper said, almost not really believing what Topik was saying.  “You,” Gasper said, pointing to Sarah.  “He wants you to go, too.”  There was silence for a moment.


            “Me?” Sarah asked.  I’m…the Epitorum?” she asked hesitantly.


            “Hey, I only say what the big guy says,” Gasper said.  “You may want to do as he says, too.”  Jack looked at Sarah.


            “It’s okay,” Jack said, holding out his hand.  “I guess…you were destined to come with me too.”


            “What does it mean?” Sarah asked.


            “I’ll find out as you do, Sarah,” Jack said.  “You’re safe with me, right?”


            “Yes,” Sarah said.  “I am.”  She smiled.  Soon, a multicolored portal opened up in front of them.


            “I guess you two will be gone awhile together,” Tristan said, winking at Jack.  “Don’t do anything too feisty,” he said with a laugh.


            “Not unless you want another kidney punch, bud,” Jack responded, winking back.  “Don’t let me down on this side of the field!”


            “And don’t you let the world down on the other side, Jack,” Tristan said, waving as they stepped into the portal.


            “I won’t,” Jack said, waving good-bye.  “Hey!” he called back as the portal closed.  “You know me,” he said, his voice fading as his and Sarah’s forms fell into blackness and the gate closed. 


            Behind them, Tristan sighed.  “Yeah, he said.  I know you.  Maybe that’s what I’m afraid of.  Don’t become too powerful, now.  You know I’ll get insecure…”


            “He’s destined to become that powerful,” Gasper said.  “You’re friend has quite a task set out for him.  I mean, one Lavoid is tough, but all of them?”


            “He can do it,” Tristan said.  “He’s got powers beyond out imagination.  He just needs to learn how to use them.”


            “And what about the girl?” Gasper asked.  “Why would she need to go too?”


            “Sarah’s got some weird prescience shit going on,” Tristan said with shrug.  “We think she’s got the ability to see into the future.”


            “If she is the Epitorum, then that ability was the gene trait that Lavos was after.  He wanted to combine that DNA with Jack’s in order to create a more powerful being with the Lavoid Factor so that the DNA could be reabsorbed into the main core through the Lifestream.”


            “Umm…yeah,” Tristan said.  “I think that’s how Jack explained it.”


            “Sarah was probably the result of an extremely lengthy series of selective breeding, guided by Lavos.  Who would of known she held so much potential power.”


            “Power?” Tristan asked.


            “Oh yes,” Gasper said.  “I’m sure they’ll teach her to use her prescience abilities there.  You just wait to see how powerful she’ll be when she comes back.  The ability to look down the Timstream is quite a tool.  If she is able to use it well, she’ll be quite the powerful one.”


            “I see,” Tristan said.  He sighed.  “You know, I think it’s gonna feel like awhile till I see those two again,” he said.  “It seems like we just found each other after being split up and now we’re way apart again.  I can’t really start Jack’s plan too much without him.  I certainly hope they come back soon…”




Beginning of Time


            The appearance at the Beginning of Time was unlike the one Jack had underwent the last two time he had come here.  Instead of being greeted by the nothingness consuming everything and Topik walking up to him, this time, they were greeted by a different scene.  Not only was there not a human (or humanoid) in sight, but the surrounding they were in almost looked like resort or country club.  It was like they had won some dream vacation to the Caribbean or something.  Tropical plants surrounded what looked like a Mediterranean style beach house, all complete with a pool and tennis courts.  It was certainly a bizarre occurrence indeed.


            “…Interesting,” Jack said, examining his surroundings.  “This is not what it’s been like in times past.”


            “It was different when you came here before?” Sarah asked.


            “Yeah,” Jack said.  “It was completely different.  It was just sort of like…nothing.”


            “You like the location I’ve chosen for you to stay in?” came a voice from behind them.  Jack and Sarah spun around to see the human form of Topik, though now he was dressed in casual summer clothes. 


            “What’s this all about?” Jack asked.


            “I just figured that you would like to have nice accommodations, Planeswalker,” Topik said.  “You can’t train all day long, can you?”  He walked up to them and examined Sarah.  “Ahh, so this is Elosia’s Epitorum,” Topik said.  “Interesting.  Now, have you started to manifest your abilities?”


            Sarah looked into his eyes for a few moments before answering.  Squinting as she looked at him she nearly gasped. “It…can’t be…” she said slowly.  “I thought you were…” Topik cut her off with a smile.


            “Obviously we’ve seen a little manifestation, then.  Don’t worry, dear.  All will be explained in time.”


            “I don’t understand…” Sarah said.  “That shouldn’t be possible…and I don’t understand what you mean about my powers…”


            “Certainly you do,” Topik said with a smile.  “They’ve been there in your genetic code all this time.  You just need to learn how to use them.”


            “Am I missing something?” Jack asked.


            “You as well,” Topik said.  “You need to learn to use your ingrained genetic capability, too.  If you wish to kill Lavoids, that is.”


            “I do,” Jack confirmed.  “That’s why I’m here.  I decided to establish…”


            “I know what you decided to establish,” Topik said, cutting him off.  “Like I said another time.  We’ve been watching you.  Don’t worry, young Planeswalker.  You will learn how to kill them, and then you will begin to kill them.  Maybe the time has come that this universe will finally be ridded of the accursed species.”


            “You have a lot to explain to me, though,” Jack said.  “And Sarah too.”


            “I’ll answer all your questions and teach you all you want to know.  Remember, young ones, time is your ally.  Don’t forget it.”


            “Okay, then…” Jack said.  “So what’s first?  I mean…the last few times I’ve come here, you’ve sort of tried to talk to me but I was a bit impetuous to stop and listen.  I’m not really sure what happens now.”


            “Hmm…well maybe you’ve grown a little since then,” Topik said.  “I certainly still sense a feeling of rush and anxiousness for the coming task.  Don’t feel rushed, Lathai…err…Jack,” he corrected himself.  “We shall take the time needed, less you wish for your skills to be unperfected.  You won’t lose any time while you’re in here.”


            “You know something?” Jack asked rhetorically.  “Why didn’t you just tell me you could send me to any point in time when I came here originally?  Why did you let me storm off to Magus’s castle without even hearing everything you had to say?  And then you let me tramp off to attack Lavos, once again not hearing anything you had to say and letting my ego or my temper take hold?”


            “If you wouldn’t listen to me, I couldn’t contain you here.  I shall not teach you against your will, Jack,” Topik said.  “Once you realize that you have a certain path in life which you must follow, you will take the time to learn.  I think you’ve realized that now.  I believe you will now learn here of your free will, and that is important.  You can’t force information on the unwilling mind.  It would be a waste of your time and my time.”


            “I thought time wasn’t important?” Jack asked, smirking in the realization that he had caught the peculiar being in his own words.


            “Well, uh…” Topik started to say, also realizing that he had made a slight mishap of speech.  “You see…well…you know what I mean!” he said in frustration.  “Don’t cross the meanings of the word!”  Sarah began giggling.  Jack soon began laughing as well.


            “No body’s perfect, Topik,” Jack said.  “Don’t worry about it.”  Not really thinking about it, he jokingly slapped Topik in the back as if they had been friends for years.


            “You’re quarters are over there,” Topik finally said, indicating the large house that they had seen.  “I think you’ll find everything there to your liking.”


            “We get to stay there?” Sarah asked, a little shocked.  “We get that entire place to ourselves?”


            “Please,” Topik invited.  “Spend the night there before we begin.  I don’t see the need to start today.  If anything, the two of you could use some sleep.  You don’t seem to have gotten much even though the Grand Counsel approved the plan.”


            “We’ve been a bit antsy,” Sarah admitted.  “We’re still worried about how everything will come off.  I mean, Tristan is completely capable of administering things on that side, but maybe we just feel like things aren’t really in our control.”


            “Go rest tonight,” Topik said.  “You’ll have plenty of time for training tomorrow.”



“It’s time.”

“For what?”

“Your training.”

            -Neo and Tank from the Matrix




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