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Games | Chrono Series | Chrono Series Timeline
X-Files writer Howard Gordon once called time travel one of the great taboos of sci-fi writing. Not because it's socially unacceptable, but because it becomes convoluted almost immediately. Besides the problem of time paradox - the potential for travelling into the past and influencing fundamental events which change the future and make it impossible for you to have travelled into the past to begin with, meaning you could never have been in the past to change events, which means those events couldn't have been changed (etc.) - the bigger issue from a story-telling perspective is dealing with the intricacies of shifting timelines and protean histories in a manner which won't be too convoluted for the average audience to comprehend. Much like the previous sentence. Chrono Trigger was pretty good at making these intricate tapestries of reality accessible to gamers, but Cross made a bit of a mess of things, muddying an already twisted past by allowing power-hungry extraterrestrials and domineering artifical intelligences to further interfere with history, splitting reality in twain. To most clearly define the mercurial nature of the Chrono series' past, I've broken each era of the games' history into a few digestible chunks:
1. The "context" of the era - that is, the nature of its civilizations and conflicts, stripped of outside influence.
2. The "Lavos" Effect - what impact the arrival of Lavos (and the monster's machinations) have upon events.
3. The "Crono" Effect - events as they transpire once Crono and his comrades have reshaped history through use of the Lavos Gates.
4. The "Fate" Effect - changes inflicted by the A.I. Fate, which attempted to reinvent history to the advantage of the civilization which created it and the disadvantage of the Reptite civilization. Fate Effect portions will also detail the threat posed by Dinopolis from the alternate reality where mankind lost the evolutionary race to the Reptites.
5. The "Schala" Effect - the alternate reality created by Schala Kid Zeal from within her zero-time stasis with Lavos as she reached out to help Serge as he lay dying on Opassa Beach as a child.
6. The "Serge" Effect - the nature of history and reality once Serge rescues Schala from the Time Devourer and restores time and space to its proper form. Barring future meddling (which is probably inevitable, if the next game is going to be called "Chrono Break"...), this is time restored to its proper form. Speaking from a selfish human perspective, anyway; sucks to be a Reptite.
This breakdown still isn't perfect, but I'm only human.
A. 65 MILLION YEARS BEFORE "C"
1. THE CONTEXT
65 million years (plus change) before Crono or Serge were born, the world was still a fairly young planet. Primal, violent, big beasts with large sharp teeth, open flows of lava oozing across the continents' surface like leaky acne on a teen's face, etc. etc. At this time, there are two species vying for domination of the planet - primitive humans, and a more advanced civilization called Reptites, which resemble humanoid lizards. The Reptites have a definite upper-hand in terms of advancement, however - while humans live in simple wooden huts in the open, the Reptites have mastered the art of masonry. The massive mountain fortress of the Reptites is significantly more advanced than anything the more simplistic humans could have mustered. There are two major human settlements at this time: Ioka and Laruba, the former being a village of hunters who are willing to face the Reptites face-to-face, and the latter being a village of less powerful people who hope the ability to hide and control dinosaurs will provide them a better survival advantage. In a stunning blow to the self-confidence of nerds everywhere, this turn out not to be the case as the timid and resourceful types are put to the torch by the Reptites, leaving only the dumb jocks to carry on the species. In an uninterrupted timeline, the Reptites would have steamrolled the remaining humans in due time and taken their place as rulers of the planet. Then they'd have knocked over the Statue of Liberty. Damn dirty dinos!
2. LAVOS EFFECT
However, the evolutionary advantage possessed by the Reptites wasn't worth much in the face of the sheer power Lavos turned against them. Ushering in an ice age with the force of his impact upon the planet, Lavos swiftly brought the Reptites to extinction with the two-pronged attack of weather too cold for exothermic humanoids to withstand and, more significantly, the artificial enhancement of the human race. In the years subsequent to Lavos' arrival, humanity's mental capacity was accelerated to an unnatural degree, allowing them to surpass the Reptites' technological accomplishments in time.
3. CRONO EFFECT
Crono and his party had no real influence over events here; although they brought Azala to a slightly premature end, the conclusion of their battle was concurrent with the arrival of Lavos on the planet, which would have signalled the end of the Reptites in any case. Had Lavos not arrived, however, Crono's victory over the Black Tyrano could have given mankind a distinct advantage over the Reptites and altered the course of history. Of course, it was Lavos who enabled Crono to travel back in time (and to exist) in the first place, so this is a moot point.
4. FATE EFFECT
The team which made Chrono Cross was full of touchy-feely New Age types who believe that a planet is not simply a ball of rock and magma and water but an actual living, breathing entity with its own will. So the Planet adjusted its power crystals, took a deep breath, and forged ahead in creating an alternate reality where the Reptites didn't croak. In that parallel world, Lavos never arrived and humanity was driven to extinction by the predation of the Reptites, who created a civilization every bit as advanced as humanity eventually managed - but with the distinction of being far more harmonious with nature than anything man could ever accomplish. Terra Tower, where Serge acquires the Chrono Cross in approx. A.D. 1020, is a result of this parallel universe. In fact, the primary conflict beneath the surface of the plot in CC is in fact the battle between Fate and the planet to determine which version of the events of 65,000,000 B.C. would become real (with a guest appearance by Lavos, trying to retain its existence beyond 1999).
B. 12,000 B.C. - MAGIC & MAYHEM
In 12,000 B.C., a young man named Crono and his friends fought Lavos in the skyborne kingdom of Zeal. Zeal was a land founded upon science and magic and was ruled by a queen who sought to establish herself as an eternal despot by utilizing the power of the slumbering Lavos. Crono and his allies disrupted the queen's plans, causing Lavos to awaken briefly and destroy Zeal (and Crono, for a while). In his battle with Lavos, Crono was assisted by Schala, daughter of Queen Zeal. Schala was lost into the Time Stream and never again found, despite the efforts of her younger brother Janus (who was, along with the Enhasa Gurus Melchior, Belthasar and Gaspar, flung into the far reaches of time by Lavos). Schala in fact was absorbed by Lavos and became the benevolent half of the TimeDevourer, but even her kind nature slowly became corrupted by Lavos' hate over the centuries. The ocean palace, where Queen Zeal hoped to tap into Lavos' power, rose from the sea as a skyborne fortress called the Black Omen.
C. 9,000 B.C. - OFF-CAMERA SHENANIGANS
In approximately 9000 B.C., Lavos drew the future research city Chronopolis from the year A.D. 2400 into the past as insurance of its own personal welfare in the event that Lavos were ever to be destroyed. At the same time, the forces of the planet pulled a Reptite-based city from an alternate future (where the Reptites survived and became dominant) into the past to serve as a balance against Lavos' scheme. After an intense battle between Chronopolis and Dinopolis, Chronopolis was victorious and sealed away Dinopolis (which would later come to be known as Terra Tower) beneath Sky Dragon Island. Fate, the supercomputer which controlled Chronopolis, also captured the TimeDevourer and divided it into six Elemental Dragon Gods and an artifact of power called the Frozen Flame, thus allowing it to manipulate both Lavos and the Reptite forces to suit its whims. At the same time, Fate created the El Nido Archipelago in the midst of the Sea of Eden, an artifical land which it populated with the former workers from Chronopolis. Using its power over the Elements and human genetics through devices known as Records of Fate, the supercomputer managed to maintain close control over the development of the area and its people.
D. A.D. 600 - MYSTIC RHYTHMS
In A.D. 600, Janus (now known as Magus) tried to exact his revenge on Lavos by summoning him (with the pretense of destroying humanity in order to tap into the support of the Mystic race, which was at war with mankind). Crono interfered and he and Magus were thrown back in time to 12,000 B.C. by the partially-awakened power of Lavos. Glenn (aka Frog) later defeated Magus and returned to his human form with the aid of the Masamune (Grandleon) sword, which was stolen by an unknown party once Glenn was finished with it.
E. A.D. 1000 - HEROISM TODAY
In A.D. 1000, Crono became introduced to time travel when the pendant worn by Marle (passed down through the descendants of Queen Zeal) reacted with a warp device. Some time later, Lucca discovered an abandoned child in the woods, bearing the same blue pendant worn by Schala and Marle; she took the child in and founded an orphanage.
A few years later, a three-year-old boy named Serge who lived in Arni Village on the El Nido archipelago fell deathly ill. During a raging storm, Serge's father Wazuki and Wazuki's friend Miguel took a small boat to Marbule in the hopes of finding a mystic healer there who could help Serge. Though they survived the storm, they were thrown off course and ended up in the Sea of Eden where they discovered Chronopolis. The electrical power in Chronopolis was deactivated for 10 minutes by the storm; in that brief time, Fate's control was weakened and two important things happened: first, the Frozen Flame sought out the young Serge and healed him, but also bonded with him, foiling Fate's control over the Flame. Fate was further thwarted by the activation of a secret circuit which had been installed in its program by Lucca Ashtear (a friend of Crono) and Belthasar, who had developed Fate and Chronopolis to begin with. At the same time, the six Dragon Gods were freed from Fate's yoke briefly and managed to create a seventh dragon, a Dragon God of the second moon which bore a human form - Harle, whose mission was to ally herself with Fate and manipulate events in the Dragon Gods' favor. Miguel became trapped in a timeless void of paradox called the Time Crash which resulted from Serge's interference with the Flame; Wazuki managed to get Serge back to Arni, but was eventually corrupted and transformed by Fate (which could control the bodies and minds of the humans of El Nido) into a servant called Lynx. Wazuki - now Lynx - effectively became a human vessel for Fate, and sought to undo the setbacks it had suffered.
Four years later, Lynx tracked down Lucca Ashtear to her home, which had been converted into an orphanage, and abducted the scientist in the hopes of forcing her to set right the havoc she had wrought on Fate. Thanks to the power of the Mastermune (an advanced form of the Enhasa Guru Melchior's Masamune), a future version of Serge was able to step back in time and save a girl named Kid, though he could not prevent Lucca's abduction and eventual murder. Around this same time, Lynx also tracked down Serge, the boy who had bonded with the Frozen Flame, and attempted to kill him with a poisonous cat demon. Serge's cries of pain as he lay dying on the beach reached the ears of Schala and touched her heart. Using the power of her pendant (an incomplete but nevertheless potent Time Egg crafted by Belthasar in 12,000 B.C.), she was able to create a clone of herself and sent it into the world as Kid, the child who had been found in the woods by Lucca. At this point, reality split into two alternate worlds where Serge lived and died. In the "Home" world, Serge lived and went on with his life, but in "Another" world where Lynx and Fate existed, Serge perished from the demon's poison. However, the Frozen Flame was still out of Fate's control. Thus they began to bide their time until Serge could be pulled through the dimensions.
Ten years after that, Schala's influence caused Serge to cross the boundaries between dimensions and into Another world where he had been killed by Lynx's demon. By warping between the dimensions with the use of Kid's "astral amulet" (Schala's pendant), Serge was able to set things right and re-stabilize time and reality. However, his efforts were dogged (oddly enough) by Lynx, who sought to gain control of Serge's body to help re-synch Fate with the Frozen Flame. Under the guise of "challenging" Serge, the Dragon Gods gave him the means to destroy Fate (which eventually happened as an act of revenge by Kid), which in fact freed the seven Dragon Gods to reunite into the TimeDevourer in order to detroy humanity. Ultimately, Serge was able to free Schala's mind from the TimeDevourer, allowing her to merge with her "Kid" self, and causing the split realities to be healed and restored as one. This neatly thwarted the plans of Fate, Lavos and the TimeDevourer and allowed mankind to develop apace...
F. THE FUTURE - ...AND I FEEL FINE
In A.D. 1999, Lavos destroyed the world, leaving humanity as a decimated race much like the Reptites had become. Alternately, Lavos was destroyed by Crono and co. who traveled through the Black Omen in an earlier time period to stop Queen Zeal and Lavos before they could annhilate the planet.
In A.D. 2300, Crono, Marle and Lucca learned of Lavos' actions 301 years before and vowed to stop the beast in the past, before mankind could be destroyed. Unfortunately, by defeating Lavos before it destroyed the world, Crono and co. created a time paradox - since they were prompted into action by witnessing events in a future that never happened, how could they have been motivated to act in the first place? Thus rather than changing events, Crono simply created an alternate timeline in which The Day of Lavos never happened. In a disastrous timeline dominated by Lavos and the computer Mother Brain, the Guru of Time, Belthasar, gave Crono and friends a time machine called Epoch to combat Lavos; in a more peaceful reality, Belthasar helped establish a time research center called Chronopolis, run by the supercomputer Fate (which was based on the design of the Mother Brain).
In A.D. 2400, Chronopolis was pulled back through time by Lavos to arrive at 9,000 B.C.
Or at least... I think that's how it goes. Don't sue me if I'm wrong.