Chapter 45
by Warteen

**Bartender and Monkey watch the end of scene that is holographically displayed before them in the main chamber of Milady while Carrie and Marlinspike sit idly by.**

TGC: Bob? BOB? Bob, are you okay?

**TGC runs to him, feeling for a pulse, checking for breath, any signs of life.**

TGC: Did I do this, too? What's going on? WARTEEN? LAINE? BARTENDER? Where is everyone? Oh, I did do this. How could I have done this to him? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

**TGC's scream echoed throught the woods long after he plunged the knife into his heart.**

**The scene fades.**

Bartender: Oh, my God.
Milady: I know this must be disturbing for you...
Bartender: This is beyond disturbing. You mean, this is what happened?
Milady: I'm afraid so. And there's more.
Monkey: Ook?
Milady: I will show you...

**Milady chants a brief but complex spell, and the holographic "screen" appears again. This time, it shows Laine, Warteen, The Master, and Queen Raine.**

I am death and death is me,
invoked and controlled by a witch's plea.
A choice I make, my own will free,
as I command, so mote it be.

**QR's eyes turned black, tears streaming from them, as her hands rose high above her head like a puppet's.**

**Warteen released QL as she caught her breath.**

Warteen: Ow. What are you -

**He caught her again as she collapsed, eyes open and surprised.**

Warteen: Laine?

**He felt her neck for a pulse, and an alarmed look crossed his face.**

Warteen: Laine!
Master: Such a shame, sibling rivalry, isn't it?

**Warteen stood, drawing his sword in one fluid motion.**

Master: Oh, there's not much point in protecting her now, is there?
Warteen: Is she dead?
QR: Yes.

**Warteen jerked his head around, turning to Raine in shock.**

Warteen: You did this? Why?

**QR didn't answer, instead standing with her eyes closed.**

Warteen: Answer me.

**QR opened her eyes, and Warteen took an involuntary step back at their still-black depths and blankness within them. With a faint smile, she took a step in his direction.**

QR: It doesn't matter. She's dead.

**Warteen rushed at QR, sword high and murder in his eyes.**

Master: I don't think so!

**The Master waves his arm and sends a ripple of power at Warteen. Warteen, still hurting from the beating he took in the dungeon not long ago, goes down like a ton of bricks. Queen Raine looks on dispassionately as The Master picks up Warteen.**

Master: At last, the Psychic is mine! Ah ha ha ha! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

**With the link between the Master and Lenore disrupted, QR regains control of her body.**

QR: Laine! No!

**QR shoots a bolt of lightning at the Master, but his armor absorbs it. He turns, still full of childlike glee but not about to let this strike go unanswered.**

Master: Ah yes, Witch, good news. I've decided to allow you to have the death that you requested earlier, to reward you for your loyal service.

**Instead of using a spell, the Master simply drops Warteen, quickly leaps at QR, and, grabbing her head in his hands, breaks her neck, killing her instantly.**

Master: HAHAHAHA!!!

**The scene fades.**

Bartender: .........
Monkey: (distraught at seeing Warteen nearly killed) ee-EE!!!
Carrie: (to Monkey) It's okay, it's not real...
Marlinspike: Actually, it is... it just happened a long time ago.
Bartender: (horrified) So, this is how it all ended...
Milady: Actually, Cerberus.
Bartender: Please. Bartender.
Milady: All right, Bartender... This is how it could have ended.
Bartender: Come again?
Carrie: Milady, you're not seriously thinking of...
Milady: Quiet, Carrie. I am.

**Carrie looks shocked. Marlinspike raises an eyebrow.**
Milady: Bartender... *she pulls out a keylike object* Do you know what this is?
Bartender: Some kind of weapon, I suppose...?
Milady: Close. This is actually a time travel gate key. You could call it the ultimate weapon - it gives you the power to change the past. And this... this is the last one. *she hands it to him*
Bartender: I don't understand.
Milady: With this key, you can bring stability to the unstable time portals, like the one you came here through.
Bartender: But... why is this the last one? Where did it come from?
Milady: Perhaps I can best answer that question by telling you a little bit more about myself.

**She snaps her fingers, and an opaque pitcher appears on the table that sits between her and the time travelers. Next to it are five glasses. She reaches over and pours a glass for Marlinspike first. He drinks the clear, bubbling liquid and smiles. Milady then pours a glass for Carrie, but this drink is much darker. Bartender looks at it, confused.**

Bartender: What in the world...?
Milady: *smiles* Just a simple incantation. This pitcher pours the favorite beverage of anyone who drinks from it.
Bartender: We'll see about that. Pour mine next.

**She pours his glass, and the liquid that fills it is blue. He sips it.**

Bartender: A final fantasy! Amazing! I'm the only one who knows how to make them! *downs the entire glass*

**Milady smiles again as she refills his glass, then pours a yellow liquid for Monkey, and finally pours herself what appears to be water. She sets the pitcher down.**

Milady: I created this key. I am a member of the Timeweaver Tribe - the last member, in fact. My tribe has handed down through the ages this one-of-a-kind time travel magic, and that is how I have these powers.
Bartender: Why are you the last?
Milady: My village housed the last of the Timeweavers. When I was five years old, it was destroyed.
Bartender: Who did it? How did you escape?
Milady: I never found out who destroyed the village. I escaped thanks to a man who had mysteriously appeared not long before... he had a chocobo with him. But nobody else was saved. The destruction was thorough. I spent the next several years of my life seeking the power to get revenge. *She pauses sadly.* Anyway, that explains where the key you hold came from. It is the last because I have sworn that it would be. Time travel is too dangerous for most people - there's too much of a chance that it would get in the hands of the wrong person and inadvertantly cause the end of humanity.
Bartender: So, why have you given it to me?
Milady: If you must know, I'm touched by the purity of you and your friends. I regret some of the things I've done, and by giving you the chance to save your companions... I suppose it's my way of making up for my sins.
Bartender: If you can travel through time, why don't you just go back and undo the things you did?
Marlinspike: (chuckling) That's not possible, my good fellow. You see, the things she did would be the reason for her going back, so they had to be done and couldn't be stopped. It's a paradox, and trust me, you don't want to mess with those. You could well undo all existence.
Bartender: Yeah.
Milady: You need to be very careful about using that key. Speak your destination into it clearly - if you don't specify a time, it will take you to where you want to go in the present. You can see how that might get dangerous, if the place you want to go in the past is now an... inhospitable environment.
Bartender: Yeah.
Carrie: Well, isn't that about everything?
Bartender: Yeah... no! I still have a lot of questions for you! About the past!
Milady: I will be happy to answer your questions, but don't you have more pressing business?
Bartender: You're right! I don't have time! Thank you so much, Milady! I will come back after I save my friends!

**Bartender grabs Monkey, who is in the middle of a drink ("EEK!"), and rushes back to the alley where he landed.**

Bartender (to key): Take us to Bob the Ninja... *does some quick figuring* ...five minutes before he is killed by The Great Chad!

**He and Monkey disappear.**

**Back in Milady's chambers...**

Marlinspike: It's kind of funny, what he said. You know as well as I do that he has all the time in the world.
Milady: True. But some things he's safer not knowing.
Marlinspike: Agreed.
Carrie: Were all the horrible things in your illusions true?
Milady: (with a soft laugh) Mostly. I had to liven them up a bit to give him a sense of urgency.
Marlinspike: I'm guessing that the turncoat's suicide was part of that?
Milady: *laughs again* Of course. The Great Chad was - or should I say "is"? - one of the most self-centered people in history. He didn't care about things like remorse. Just power. Kind of like I used to be...
Marlinspike: It's all right, Milady. You're not that way now.
Carrie: Right.
Marlinspike: I'm still unclear as to why exactly you helped him. Isn't it a little dangerous to allow his group to be skipping through time at will?
Milady: Don't think I didn't consider that. But, the way I see it, whatever choices I make, I was supposed to make. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been allowed to make them.
Carrie: I guess that makes sense.
Marlinspike: Yes... so basically, if existence was to be unmade by your actions, you wouldn't have been able to make them.
Milady: In other words, if Cerberus there had messed things up by going back and saving his friends, we would have known about it by now.
Marlinspike: In that case, I have one question for you.
Milady: Yes?
Marlinspike: What eventually happened to The Master?
Carrie: Oh, Mister Marlinspike, you know as well as I do that he was thwarted by Warteen and his friends.
Marlinspike: Yes. We know that now. But how could that have happened if Milady had not just sent back that man to save him?
Milady: *laughs* Now you understand, Jonathan. But you shouldn't worry so much. Obviously whatever was supposed to happen, will happen. Que sera, sera, as they say.

**Marlinspike smiles contentedly, and Carrie giggles.**

Carrie: Well, it looks like our time traveling business is done for now, at least until that Bartender man comes back... if he comes back. Mister Marlinspike, do you think he would have come back by now?
Marlinspike: I honestly don't know.
Milady: We'll just wait and see, dear.

**Back in the cretaceous period, with Bob, Chad, and company...**

TGC: No, I didn't. You killed Erronius. You brought him here. That was your mistake. What did you think would happen? We were going to sit idly by while he ruined all our plans.
BtN: And just what are these plans?
TGC: Like I'm dumb enough to reveal all our plans to you.
BtN: You don't know do you?
TGC: Of course I-
BtN: No, you don't. He didn't tell you. He's not going to tell you. He's using you to kill me. And once he's done with you...

**Bartender and Monkey come through the portal, unseen by the arguers.**

Bartender: (quietly) Yikes! They're about to come over here! We shouldn't interfere until we have to, Monkey!
Monkey: (loudly) Ook!
Bartender: (quietly) Shhh! *Monkey glares at him.* C'mon, let's hide!

**Bartender and Monkey hop behind a nearby bush.**

BtN: Oh, go to the portal. Try stepping through it. You know they've locked you in here.
TGC: To keep you from escaping.
BtN: Tell them you're in trouble, then. Tell them to send reinforcements.
TGC: Why would I need help finishing you?
BtN: Try it.
Ha-Kee: Just finish him already. You know he's lying. As long as you're with me and Alpha, you're fine.
TGC: You two were failures. You couldn't kill any of them.
BtN: Oh, I see. Getting rid of all the useless pawns in one fell swoop.
Alpha: Call me useless, will you.
TGC: Now, now. You two stay out of this. Leave. You are no longer needed.

**Alpha and Ha-Kee step into the portal...and bounce right back.**

Bartender: (quietly) This is just like it happened in Milady's vision... and I know what comes next... But when do I step in?
Ha-Kee: Lenore? Master? We are ready to return and serve your purpose further. Open the portal.


**Ha-Kee and Alpha are terrified now, realizing BtN's theory to be true. TGC is also afraid, although he is trying much harder to mask his fear. BtN still noticed it spreading across his face.**

BtN: See.
TGC: You're still alive. They aren't opening the portal until you are finished. Can't have you coming back and running amok, can we?
BtN: Then finish me and we'll see. The outcome will be the same.
Ha-Kee: Ch-Chad.

**TGC descends upon the underlings, dagger drawn...**

Bartender: Now?!
Monkey: Ook!!

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