Chrono Trigger: The Sands of Time

The Green Dream; wherein the group sees how quickly things can change...

The morning broke as they passed under the Zenan Bridge. It was awe-inspiring to remember the battle that took place so long ago at a different angle. The cliffs were precipitous and smooth while heavy wood work seemed to have been added to the bridge itself. Indeed, there were more improvements going into the bridge, such as reinforcing it with stone and steel.

They had entered the Denadoro region and were pulling up to its sole city, Dorino, where they had stopped and saw the parade with the little boy who claimed to be the legendary hero. While it was quiet and subdued the last time they were there, it was understandable. A battle had just happened. But even then, there was activity and a sense of rejoicing. Now, it was just still and almost seemed deserted. The canals were quiet as they neared the docks that lay on the northernmost part of the city.

There was evidence of expansion, but it had been abandoned. Glenn looked to Toma and asked about it. "Well, people have been either going to either Guardia or Porre after the crops began failing. There really isn't a reason to expand on a dying town."

There was still traffic, but it was nowhere close to the traffic they recalled the last time they were here. The streets seemed dirtier, everything seemed shabbier, and people seemed grouchier. "Don't take any mind of them," Toma would say, "you have to understand that when a town is dying it is a tough thing to endure. Some of these people who have stayed have been here for generations. That's very hard to give up."

"So, where is this horticulturist?" Lucca asked as they walked.

"What?" Toma asked, his eyebrow raised.

Lucca mentally slapped herself, cleared her throat and said, "Um, where is the lady that has the green thumb?"

Toma laughed, "Oh, you mean Fiona? She has a cabin we set up for her out here. She-"

"Fiona?" Lucca asked, her voice illicitating shock.

Chrono smiled to himself as he walked, suddenly remembering that name from all the years of school and from the extracurricular books Lucca studied. He could hear the dots connecting in her head. Toma didn't turn around, but the confusion was evident in his voice. "Yes. Her name is Fiona. She heard about our-"

"Fiona of Guldove?"

Toma turned at this point, his face scrunched up in confusion, "Uh, yes. Do you-"

The sound that came from Lucca was very uncharacteristic to the point where everyone turned to face her. "We are going to meet with Fiona of Guldove? THE Fiona of Guldove? The most prolific scientist of the dark ages? I mean, she-"

Lucca was stopped by Robo. He cleared his non-existent throat and said, "Toma! It is a long walk to get to where Fiona is, right? Do you think you can get us something to eat for the trip?"

"Uh, sure." Toma said with an awkward smile, showing he knew that he was being sent away for some unrelated purpose. Even so, he obliged, went away and everyone looked at Lucca who was brimming over with joy. She looked as if she were a child on her birthday who received every gift she ever wanted. She was bouncing on her toes, her hands over her mouth. Glenn approached her and calmed her, "Calm thyself, Lady Lucca…'tis an ordinary person like any other. Am I wrong?"

She wasn't even mad, but stated matter-of-factly, "Yes. You are wrong. You have no idea how big of a deal she is!"

Glenn took no offense and smiled, finding her joy to be infectious. "Well, who is she then? Is she merely a horticulturist as thou hast said?"

Chrono was very familiar, knowing Lucca's inspiration from all the conversations they had. Marle, not being particularly interested in history until the adventure began, was a little uncertain about the importance of Fiona. Robo was a walking history book, the extensive knowledge of written history being embedded in his memory. Ayla did not really seem to care and only wanted to continue forward. But Magus' eyes lit up. He knew of her and even said later in passing that at one point the Mystics followed her work closely and that she held great promise in explaining the world and its phenomena in a quantifiable manner.

Lucca started, "She isn't just a horticulturist. She is a scientist that set the basis for observing the rules of the natural world! She not only studied plants and how they grew; she studied chemistry, mathematics, weather, mechanics, animals, biology...She knew everything! She was the most revolutionary inventor and scientist of our era! She brought the world out of the dark ages and into a world of deduction and reason! I mean, look at the list of the things she discovered let alone invented! She discovered the method of conducting electricity, she introduced mechanics and propulsion systems, developed physics, she discovered Fiona's number…"

"'Fiona's number'?" Marle asked.

"It's how many atoms exist in a mol of an element." Lucca stated.

"How many atoms exist in a mole? Of what import is studying how many atoms exist in an animal? And what is an atom anyway?" Glenn asked.

Lucca laughed, a bit condescendingly, but Glenn immediately forgave it and saw it for what it was: Lucca being carried away in excitement. "Not the animal 'mole'. It is the chemistry 'mol'. But I'll tell you what, next time we sit down I'll give you an idea of what it all is and explain it. It'll blow your mind, just like how she blew minds in the scientific world."

Glenn stroked his chin, "I enjoy reading such things, but have never heard of it. Why is that so?"

Lucca bit her lip, "I guess she doesn't really come into prominence until after the war. She was a refugee after the Mystics raided Guldove at one point. Now that the war is over, maybe she is just starting to make a name for herself. However, I do remember that she tried to save a town from starvation and failed. That damaged her reputation to the point where it took years for people to take her work seriously. I can't believe I didn't realize it sooner, but this must be the town she couldn't save!"

Ayla smirked, "Well, this is good luck then! If we help her, we help the town! If there is more food, that helps the Mystics too!"

"Are you going to be okay, Lucca?" Chrono said with a grin.

"I-I might faint."

Toma returned with a satchel filled with bread and other goods for the trip. Their stroll took them past the outskirts of the city. Toward the city limits things were more dismal. Houses were abandoned and looted by either drifters or animals from the wilderness. Not only that, the lush green grass quickly began to fade into yellowed blades until they became patches. Eventually, there was no grass at all and nothing but sickly looking trees in sight.

Lucca approached a tree and looked at it, "'s strange, but we are in a decently humid area. There shouldn't be any problem with water supply...but all the leaves are turning yellow and look burnt around the edges."

Robo looked at the tree and took a leaf into his hands, examining it. "It doesn't seem like water is the problem. This leaf is devoid of nutrients. The burned look around the edges signify that it is short on Phosphorus and the yellowing shows a lack of magnesium."

Toma gave them a strange look and they continued on until the cottage was in sight.

It was a quaint little cottage that looked like it could have been built by a team of people in a few days and later improved upon. The land in this area was greener, but was still far from the lush plant life outside of the Dorino region. As they approached, a young man among a group of several other workers saw them and trotted into the cottage. He came back out and started working the ground again, shortly followed by Fiona herself.

Lucca's eyes bulged and she gasped in delight. "Take it easy." Magus whispered.

The word to describe Fiona was "adorable." She was a petite woman who was all smiles. She had long, straw blonde hair that was done up in a bun but spilled out and cascaded down the back of her neck. She greeted them with a grand smile, her brown eyes twinkling. She stuck out a hand and personally greeted everyone with a firm handshake befitting that of a strong girl from the countryside. "Welcome to my little slice of heaven! Sorry we didn't spruce up the place a bit! We were expecting you!"

"Really?" Chrono asked, "We didn't have a messenger bird or anything on the ship. And Toma told us just as we were boarding…"

Toma loudly cleared his throat and Chrono gave him a confused look. He looked at Toma's anxious face and Chrono's eyes suddenly went wide with sudden clarity. He hid his suprise with a normal smile. Everyone else was nonplussed. Chrono started clumsily, "I mean, Toma is a long time friend of ours. We owe him so much for everything he has done for us."

"Really?" Fiona began, honestly surprised. She looked at Toma and said, "Well, I didn't know you were personal friends with the heroes of the battle at Zenan Bridge!"

"Oh yes, we go back a long time."

"Well, if we had any I would have toasted you all with wine but all we have is water. Would that be okay?"

Glenn smiled, "Aye, 'tis welcomed Fiona. I thank thee."

Fiona excused herself to the water pump outside after everyone acquiesced. They all turned to Chrono and Toma with puzzled countenances. "How could she be expecting us? There was no way we could get word to her."

Toma blushed and nervously toyed with his mustache.

Chrono grinned, "Well, I can see why you like her. But you didn't have to be so coy about it. You could have told us that you knew her personally and that you had a friend who needed help."

Magus, catching onto what the whole thing was about, rolled his eyes.

Toma rubbed the back of his head, "S-sorry...I just kind of knew that you would be willing to help out if someone needed it. I knew that if I mentioned someone was having trouble on the ship, you guys would jump at it. She really is doing very important work. Honest! It just felt kind of silly to blurt out that I just wanted to impress a girl. I wanted to tell you all, but I just couldn't find the right time to do it..."

Lucca laughed inwardly. Although she wouldn't confess it she thought to herself that Toma had no chance. Instead she grinned and said, "Well, probably the best way to impress the girl is by bringing something to the table and not by introducing the fact that you know a - hey! Chrono, I just realized that you are a celebrity!"

Chrono blushed as everyone laughed at this. They could hear Fiona returning. Chrono gave everyone a look that suggested to be supportive, patted Toma firmly on the shoulder and gestured to him. This time Magus and Lucca both rolled their eyes.

Fiona had a small tray that held a stone cup for each of them. They all took it and drank it while Robo poured it out whenever he found the opportunity. As they drank, Chrono asked "What can we do to help?"

Fiona looked out the window, took a deep breath and sighed, "Perhaps you can give me some insight to Mystic magic."

Magus chuckled only loud enough so those next to him could hear, but said nothing.

"What makes you think it is Mystic magic and not the soil just going bad?"

Fiona took a sip of her water, sighed contentedly and said, "The humidity in the air is more than capable of sustaining plant life here. The temperature is perfect growing weather. Plant life should be exploding. You would probably do what I did and first assume it must be the soil. Of course anything we put in didn't grow, even under our best care. So, I figured this city could have accidentally created a dust bowl."

"They made a big bowl out of dust?" Ayla aked.

"No," Fiona chuckled, "I can understand why you would think that. To be honest, I don't know where the term originates. Anyway, when you plant crops on a large scale, you suck up nutrients from out of the ground at a fast rate. The stalks and chaff eventually disintegrate into the ground and reinforce more nutrients into the soil. However, you need time for the nutrients to enter the ground and for the soil to be aerated. If you just keep planting and producing crops in the same spot, you will destroy the soil for years because the nutrients will be sucked dry. The only method would be years of work to shift the soil and reintroduce nutrients into it. You would essentially be turning a desert into a garden. I thought that is what they did here and for a few weeks I interviewed any farmers who stayed behind. They were very responsible. They rotated their fields every growing season like they were supposed to. That is what is so puzzling. But, there is something that is alarming."

"And what is that?"

"I experimented with reintroducing fertile soil to the ground here to see how the plants would take to it. Now, keep in mind that this soil was developed by me. It is the richest source of plant food you can imagine." She pointed to a few potted plants where several flower bulbs were sprouting. "That is the formula I used and that is what my team used in our plot out front. Here you can see how lush and vivid the plant life is...and you have seen the specimens around the cottage. It is better, but they don't last long until they look like the rest of the plants in the area. And when we try to reuse the soil, nothing grows at all!"

"Maybe it is insects?" Chrono offered. "I mean, me and my mother always had to worry about bugs."

"Good guess, but no." Fiona said with a headshake, "Listen."

The party listened and could only hear the wind and the toil of those outside.

"No crickets, right? But in town you could hear them, am I right? No insects, no ants, NOTHING. It's as if the ground around here is devoid of life altogether."

Suddenly, Magus nodded and said, "I can see why you might think some sorcery occurred here. This cessation of life feels very unnatural." He looked at the people in his party and with a knowing look showing that he spoke from certain knowledge, added, "but I doubt the Mystics had any plans to destroy your crops and your fields. The Mystics wanted to take over your - er, 'our' territories. They wouldn't have wanted to do such lasting damage to what they would see as a valuable resource."

Fiona's brow furrowed, "But there can be no other explanation!"

"Well," Lucca began, "what if it is just the topsoil? Maybe the ground under is just fine?"

Fiona shook her head, "I had that thought, but honestly, I have been pushing my team hard enough. It would be far too much to have them dig deep enough to check the bedrock."

Robo made a show of stretching, adding in a grunt for dramatic effect, "Well, it looks like it is time for me to shine? I guess I shall unEARTH this problem."

Dead silence. Only Chrono laughed heartily, slapping his knee.

Fiona looked confused. "Was that a pun?"

They stood outside now after Lucca apologized for Robo's joke. She explained to Fiona that Robo had control over the earth itself. What followed, beyond her excited shrieking, were questions into Robo's abilities that were so in-depth that not even he was sure about the answers. For that reason, they stood outside, ready to test his mettle over the elements.

"So, what do you want me to do?"

"Well," Fiona began, "we had noticed that the land around here has been really dry. The more east you go, the drier it gets. We can conduct a survey by going to a few different areas, drilling into the ground, and see how long it takes until we churn up water. But of course, that equipment would take time to make and much more capital than has been allotted to us. If you are able to control the earth in the way I imagine, it would be better than drilling. We can see if lack of water is the cause. My theory is that if the water is deeper into the ground the further east we go, then the biome has changed to arid and there is nothing we can do save from massive irrigation to correct it. And that is only if the government finds it still worthwhile."

"So, what do you want me to do?"

"I want you to concentrate your hold over the earth so that it rises out of the ground like a pole. Nothing too big. A foot in diameter should be enough. Just keep raising it out of the ground. Eventually, we should be able to see wet soil."

"So, just imagine cutting into the ground and levitating it out?" Robo asked.

"Yes. And I might ask you to stop and hold it at certain points. Can you do that?"


Everyone stepped back. Robo picked a spot and focused. He stood, his legs further apart and clasping his hands together. There was the feeling of a slight tremor and suddenly, a pillar of earth started rising from the ground as if it were a snake. Fiona stood, her mouth agape in wonder.

"Shouldn't you be counting the depth, Miss Fiona?" Robo said, his voice a little strained.

"Oh yes!" she said, slightly panicked at her lack of focus.

As they sat and watched, Ayla raised her eyes. "Is it me, or does it seem really difficult for Robo to do this?"

Magus nodded, "Well, it is the same of physical strength in a way. Sometimes explosive movements are easier than slow and controlled movements. It requires more also have to keep in mind he is focusing on keeping the pillar intact."

"Stop! Right there! Are you able to hold it, Robo? And can you hold it comfortably?"

"Yes, I should be fine for a long while. If I start to lose strength I will let you know."

The party drew near, but didn't see any wetness in the dirt. They looked at Fiona who was looking at the pillar very intently. She reached out and touched a certain spot and did so in several other places. She then dug in and pulled out a sample from the pillar. Suddenly, as if she understood why, Lucca's eyes went wide and she also leaned in to examine it as well. She and Fiona exchanged a few words.

"That is so bizarre!" Lucca said.

"Indeed...have you ever seen soil composition like this?" Fiona queried.

"Only in mineral veins, like gold or silver…"

At Lucca's utterance, Fiona's eyes went wide. She went to the other side of the pillar and gasped, "Lucca, I think you are right! Look! The markings on the opposite side are the exact same!" She took her finger and dug further into the pillar and exclaimed, "Yes! Look! It continues on! It's a vein! And look! There are larger spots throughout the pillar!"

"But, what is the material? I mean, it looks like Magnesium, but it couldn't possibly be that."

Marle stepped forward at this point and cleared her throat, "Ahem, I hate to interrupt, but can you guys please tell the not-as-smart kids in the back of the classroom what is going on?"

Lucca grinned, cleared her throat and nodded, "So, Fiona just noticed that the dirt isn't wet, but that isn't the only thing. She noticed tiny little discolorations in the dirt itself. See? Take a look, everyone!" Everyone did as she said and looked at the pillar. It was intermittent, but throughout the surface were solid circles of gray interspersed with dots of red.

Fiona continued, "So, are you familiar with veins and how they are formed?"

Everyone stared at her blankly.

"Well, imagine you had a piece of lead in a jar of sugar. The earth is always moving and shaking, just like if I were shaking the jar. Over time, if it shakes and shifts enough, the heavier lead will eventually sink to the bottom of the jar. Minerals that form veins are like the lead that is moving to the bottom of the jar. The minerals will continue to go down further and further until it gets stopped by something denser than itself. That can be the bedrock. Over time, it eventually all drifts to the same place as water seeps into the ground and loosens the earth. That is what they call a 'lode'."

Lucca continued, "So, here's the other thing: magnesium rarely exists by itself in nature. Not to mention, magnesium and phosphorous are usually lighter and would never be pulled into veins like this. The fact that we are seeing veins of it means only one thing. Anyone?" Lucca asked, looking toward the group.

Glenn shook his head, "It is like I am school again. 'Tis insufferable." Nonetheless, he answered with a smile, "I suppose t'would mean that a force doth pull apart the magnesium."

"Exactly." Lucca said.

"But what is pulling it? And why?" Ayla asked.

Magus answered, also wondering if this could have been some plan Ozzie concocted without him knowing, "Yes. I would like to know that too. I doubt it would be the Mystics...but it is strange that nutrients are being pulled from the soil, especially since they planned on occupying the territory should they have conquered it."

"Well, stranger things have happened." Fiona said, holding her chin. "There has to be some unknown force pulling the magnesium and phosphorus away. The way it is shifting into veins goes against laws on the properties of mass. But maybe it would help to find out where it is being pulled too. And I have an idea of how we can do that."

"In the same way we would track down a gold or silver node, correct?" Robo stated.

"Why yes! Very good, Robo! And-oh!"

Fiona, apologetic for forgetting about his burden, asked Robo to slowly lower the pillar back into the ground. "Now, the next thing I am going to ask of you might be difficult," Fiona started with a bit of trepidation. "You are going to raise a block of earth out of the ground. I want the block to go about fifty feet deep, about thirty feet wide, and a foot thick, pulled all the way up to the surface and held there." She held up a finger to indicate she was not done, walked about fifty feet, and drew a line in the dirt with her foot, "I also need a second block the same size, but it needs to be pulled up here. And I will need you to hold it for several minutes. I might need you to move it every once in a while. Can you do that?"

Robo clapped his hands together. "I won't know unless I try! Well, here we go!"

"No! Wait!" Fiona said, holding up a hand. She jogged toward her cottage and came back with some parchment and ink. Lucca, her eyes going wide as Fiona's plan dawned on her, asked for a piece of paper and a quill so that she could help.

"Okay. You can do it now. Let us know if you need to stop."

The movement of the earth was less steady this time; a testament to the amount of effort needed to hold the dirt compact and together. Every so often a tuft of dirt would come loose from the wall and drift below as Lucca and Fiona stood in between the two plates of earth. When Robo was about a quarter of the way through raising the dirt, Fiona called out for him to stop and hold it. "Quickly, Lucca! Take your measurements on that side and I will do it from over here!"

They worked quickly, each one running to seemingly random spots on the wall. They would take measured steps, counting aloud to themselves, and then run to the opposite wall to do the same thing. After a few minutes, Fiona called out to Lucca: "Did you get enough reference points?"

"Yeah! Robo! Go ahead and raise it some more!"

The process occurred two more times. He would raise it, they would quickly examine marks on the wall, run to the opposite wall, and make similar notes. It wasn't until the third and final time that Crono had a look of dawning comprehension and remarked his surprise out loud.

Toma looked at him and said, "Do you know what they are doing? Because to me they look like they are chickens running around with their heads cut off."

"It's geometry. They are finding the most distinguishable veins on one wall, assuming that the veins continue to the other wall in a generally straight line, and are using the other sides to plot a point so they can find out where the nutrients in the ground are being pulled. They could do it with just one point, but that would only tell you how far away it is. They are doing it a second time so they can see how deep it is and a third time to help verify if their numbers are right."

Toma raised an eyebrow and shrugged, signaling that perhaps it would make more sense after he saw what happened next.

"We are done! Go ahead and lower it down, Robo!"

Robo obeyed, his limbs and gears straining from the unseen forces that held the slabs of earth in place. Fiona, being clear from the site, suddenly noticed the sound of the gears straining. She looked toward Robo, her face being the picture of inquisitiveness and then suddenly astonishment. Chrono had caught her expression and she noticed. She quickly smiled, but Chrono could see the surprise she had hidden behind her demeanor.

"She truly is a great mind." Chrono thought, "She is the only one on our travels who realized what Robo is."

She said nothing and did not ask any probing questions. Of course, her curiosity got the better of her for a moment. She gave Robo a firm pat on the shoulder as an acknowledgement of a job well done and heard a clang that told her all she needed to know. Robo, with all the observations he could make in a second, became flabbergasted as he realized Fiona's intentions. She only looked at him, winked, smiled, and softly said "Shh".

The others went ahead while Chrono and Robo stood watching after them. They were silent for a moment with Robo finally breaking the silence. "She really has an incredible mind, doesn't she?"

"Yeah," Chrono said with a nod.

They started for the cabin. "So, whatever calculations she makes, we are going to where it leads, am I right?"

"Yes." Chrono said.

"Well," Robo said, "if that is the case, Toma better stay behind, talk with her about his affections, and just go for it."


"Because if nothing gets past her there is no way she doesn't know what that guy is thinking."

They both laughed and went inside.

Lucca and Fiona took their two pages of markings and turned it into a table covered with papers and calculations. They would occasionally ask Toma about the surrounding area and any rumors he might have picked up during his travels before returning back to their work. Marle smiled, watching how intently Lucca worked side by side with Fiona. She could feel a slight bit of sadness that she was not able to share in that same excitement of discovery. However, it did make her feel a little better as she explained to Ayla what they were doing.

The concept was very foreign to Ayla. The closest that Marle could come to describing it in a way Ayla could understand was that they were hunters tracking down something that moved through the earth. Ayla could not understand the concept of formulas and the relationships of numbers. Of course it was not surprising. Such discoveries were beyond her time.

As they worked, Ayla could feel a certain anger building within her that she could not explain. She kept it hidden, although she knew that Chrono would look toward her.

"Kabalo siya akong mga isip."

However, she could not help the feeling. The anger burned within her. She recalled being a child, peeking through the brush to spy on the Reptites. While they lived in grass huts and scavenged for food in the forest, she watched these creatures build monuments and giant fortresses of stone. They used pulleys, had tables full of strange markings, and worked wonders with a knowledge beyond her own. She recalled being chased away if she were found, rocks being hurled at her as if she were a filthy rat. She felt low and stupid. It was through years of fighting that she grew in confidence. She showed her superiority in brute strength. But she never shook that feeling. It was a question that would nag at the back of her mind.

"Were we really better than the Reptites?"

She was amazed at the works of which Lucca and Fiona were capable. But she couldn't help but wonder what world would exist had the Reptites won. They built towering structures out of stone that reached toward the sky. Their leader could control the motions of others with his mind. What other marvels could they have created had they been the victors? Azayla truly was a dictator, but what if his successor did not share his vision of natural selection? What if they had built a better world? What if they were more suited to take on Lavos? Would she have won had Chrono not been there?

"So, I think we narrowed it down considerably." Lucca, said spreading out the calculations over a map.

This announcement snapped Ayla out of her thoughts and the group gathered around the table. Ayla grimaced as they went over a bunch of terminology that she did not understand. It felt as if it were some sort of witchcraft and they were making up arbitrary rules as they went along.

It was something called MATH.

"It's a bit hard to get it all," Lucca started, seeing how Ayla seemed to get more and more frustrated. "But what we essentially did was find a vein on one wall, find the vein that seems to match its position, and imagine that it continues to the end."

"But what if some veins stop? What if you came across a spot that is crazy and all over the place?" Marle asked.

"Good question!" Lucca said with a wink. "That is why we took coordinates from a whole bunch of different spots! The more information you have, the better! Taking our estimations, which admittedly varied a lot, ESPECIALLY given our less than stellar instrumentation for measuring, we found something known as the standard deviation."

"THAT" Fiona began, dramatically taking over, "is an average of the differences. Yes, you may have a vein that goes off into nowhere, but with the standard of deviation, you take a bunch of coordinates that go off into different directions and you narrow it down. It's not perfect, but helps to have a master explorer that knows the surrounding area!"

Toma grinned and nodded. "And that is where I can finally make myself useful." He pointed toward the map and said, "You see, there is a very large area still. It would take us forever to hunt down a singular point save for one thing: the depth." He flipped a few maps and pointed toward a certain island. "This place is known as 'The Giant's Claw'. It's a locale that has drawn the attention of spelunkers for generations."

"Spelunkers?" Ayla asked, "What is that?"

"People who explore caves," Toma stated. "There have been legends surrounding it. They say that the Crossbones, a pirate gang who were famous for their supposed hidden wealth, stowed it away in the Giant's Claw. It was over hundreds of years ago, but every now and then you hear about spelunkers that try to find treasure or at least find the bottom, but all have never found anything and many never come back.."

"Why?" Marle asked, their recent run-in with ghosts still fresh in her mind.

"There are rumors that it's haunted. But also, it's incredibly dangerous. The cavern is pitch dark inside and there are holes everywhere. It is most likely that they either fell to their deaths or got lost in the caves and never came back out." The group shuddered at the thought. Toma continued, "I immediately thought of this place because the calculations for this...point of origin...are...well…" Toma paused for a moment as if he were about to say something ridiculous, "three miles below the surface."

The group was dismally silent as the thought of a never-ending cave enveloping them iced over their veins.

Robo shrugged, "Well, I guess we better start digging then!"

Author's note: Once again, you all are rockstars and I appreciate you all following as long as you have and waiting as patiently as you have. I actually have a post I've been working on for those who I honestly understand might be worried I'll never finish this. I'll put up a disclaimer for sure, but you'll see it here soon.

Translation: "He knows my thoughts."