February 4, 2004
with contributions from
bubblebobby2000 and Magus22
Below are two summaries of Chrono Cross. The first is written from an analytical perspective. It shows how the plot of Chrono Cross came to be, starting with the first catalyst event in Chrono Trigger. The second summary follows the perspective of Serge for better reference of how the plot is delivered in-game. It comes from the Chrono Cross Wikipedia article, which I wrote.
Origin of the Time Devourer
When Crono was at the Ocean Palace and the Red Knife was plunged into the Mammon Machine, Schala was thrown into a dimensional vortex at the Ocean Palace disaster along with the machine itself, where either Lavos or temporal disruptions began a merging of the two beings at a place called the Darkness Beyond Time. This went unnoticed; Lavos merged with Schala with the intent of evolving to a being that could consume all space-time. in 2300 AD, as happened before Crono saved the world, Belthasar came in from the disaster to find the new future (that is, the future after Crono saved the world). He set about building a research institute on time called Chronopolis in the Sea of Eden that is powered by a splinter of Lavos that fell when he landed millions of years ago, called the Frozen Flame. The Flame allowed a kind of communication with Lavos; human contact in 3000000 BC was responsible for the evolution of humans to use magic. Belthasar constructed and ran a computer called FATE; in the process, he found that Schala was being integrated with Lavos and that the resulting being, the Time Devourer, would have the capacity to destroy all space-time if allowed to complete the merge. Belthasar here planned an elaborate, if not needlessly complex, plan to save Schala and eliminate the Time Devourer. Everything after this point is planned by Belthasar, who calls himself the Prophet of Time.
Project Kid and FATE
Belthasar supposedly draws up plans for the Counter-Time Experiment, which, if successful, would allow Chronopolis control over time. He then departs to the modern era, around 1010-1020 A.D.; in the future, the Counter-Time Experiment failed, causing the Time Crash. Lavos, awakened at the Ocean Palace according to plan, thought it might mess up history by sucking Chronopolis back through time, which had been exposed by the Time Crash. Through the Frozen Flame, it did so, pulling it to 12000 B.C. The planet felt it needed to counterbalance the introduction of this temporally foreign facility by pulling in Dinopolis from an alternate dimension in which the Reptites lived due to Lavos not falling to the planet in that dimension. The two institutions began warring. Chronopolis fought and won against Dinopolis, and used the power of the Frozen Flame to split up its deity power source, the Dragon God, into six separate entities. FATE decided that in order not to mess up history, it should avoid contact with the mainland of Zenan if possible. It terraformed El Nido so that it could set up its own paradise, and dispatched the workers of Chronopolis to the new islands, erasing their memories. The people would be guided by several terminals called the Records of Fate that could neurologically control its users. The Dragonians also settled El Nido, survivors from Dinopolis; they forged Elements, or devices which could have a natural effect when activated. Lastly, it spread the remnants of the Dragon God around a few special islands, names for their resident piece -- Water Dragon Isle, etc.
Settlement of El Nido
History proceeded here normally; the survivors of Dinopolis joined the humans of El Nido and are the Dragonians referred to several times throughout the game. Dragonian technology, called Elements, was adopted by the residents of El Nido, and used as a form of magic. However, it should be noted that this is not innate, but mechanical magic; Element users are using manufactured devices to control the environment, while innate magic users such as Magus and Crono are able to directly produce the effect themselves. All people have a sort of Element "innate color," representing the type of Element (Water, Wind, Earth) they are most in harmony with. The Dragonians also created an emblem known as the Dragon Tear. In 920 A.D., settlers from Zenan (remember, the continent on which Porre and Guardia from Chrono Trigger reside) found El Nido, and began colonizing it. The Dragonians slowly died out, perhaps leaving Demi-humans behind as half children between humans and Dragonians (they may also be Mystic remnants). A place known as Viper Manor was built at this time, and the Acacia Dragoons were established, self-declared defenders of El Nido. The Viper Clan was responsible for its founding, and probably emigrated from mainland Zenan with others.
Serge and the Frozen Flame
In 1005 A.D., the kingdom of Guardia met a violent end in a war with Porre, who, in this timeline, had become a military power (see the Compendium's The Rise of Porre article for theories on its military origins). Porre began creating plans for domination of El Nido. In 1003 A.D., Serge was born, and in 1004 A.D., Kid was created by Schala as a clone of herself and sent into the world according to Belthasar's plan. She was found by Lucca, and raised in her house, which was then a converted orphanage. In 1006 A.D., at the age of 3, Serge was wounded by a panther demon while playing and taken out to sea by his father, Wazuki, and his friend, Miguel, in an attempt to save him. Schala recognized his crying from across time, and feeling empathy, she causes a huge magnetic storm to blow them off course to Chronopolis, since the Frozen Flame alone could save Serge. The storm caused Chronopolis's defenses to fail, leaving the facility entirely open; Serge was treated by the Frozen Flame, but it corrupted his father. The defenses came back online; Serge and Wazuki escaped but Miguel was detained. By contacting the Frozen Flame, Serge became the Arbiter, meaning that only he could access it, thanks to a circuit called the 'Prometheus Circuit' built to limit access as part of Belthasar's plan. The circuit was actually Robo, who volunteered to be part of the project. This was a huge setback for FATE and Chronopolis, as the Flame was its power source. FATE took advantage of Wazuki's corruption, and began to shape him to FATE's will. Lastly, while the storm was down, the split Dragon Gods briefly came together to create a seventh piece, called Harle.
Chrono Cross Begins
In 1010 A.D., FATE succeeded in having Serge's father kill him; the act of doing so permanently warped his father, Wazuki, into a being known as Lynx. Harle, after this, befriended Lynx in order to get closer to the Frozen Flame. Time continued normally; in 1015 A.D., FATE attempted to track down Lucca so that she may deactivate the Prometheus Circuit, which was preventing Chronopolis from accessing its source of power, the Frozen Flame. Lucca's orphanage was burned, and a few children were presumably killed. Kid escaped the fire, and Lucca's whereabouts are unknown after this event but it was assumed that she was probably killed for refusing to deactivate the lock on the Frozen Flame. According to Belthasar's plan, in 1020 A.D., Kid went back in time to 1010 A.D. to save Serge. She succeeded, and a new dimension was "fissioned" off from the main one; the main is now called Another World, and the new one, in which Serge lives, is called Home World. Inherent properties of Home World caused the future to end in ruin brought about by Lavos; this is reflected in the formation of the Dead Sea, which is Home World's Sea of Eden (Chronopolis has temporal links with the future, and reflects its state -- see Salt for the Dead Sea). In 1020 A.D., Another World, Kid called Serge across the dimensions from Home World, as Serge is able to travel between them since he is absent from either one or the other at any given time. Serge, seeking the knowledge of why the dimensions exist and how he plays into the scheme of things, embarked on a quest, partly for the Frozen Flame.
Body-Switching and Betrayal
He first met Kid at Cape Howl; the Acacia Dragoons had been dispatched to bring him in, as Lynx wanted to capture him and switch bodies in order to access the Frozen Flame at Chronopolis (remember, the Prometheus Circuit only allowed the Arbiter to enter, and one had to pass a biological confirmation of being the arbiter). They defeated the Dragoons and went to Termina, eventually deciding to enter Viper Manor to learn more and possibly find the Flame. They did not succeed; Kid was poisoned, but eventually healed. The quest led Serge to Fort Dragonia, where Lynx switched bodies with him by using the Dragon Tear (it shattered in the process, and the party retrieved a shard later on). This effectively allowed Lynx and FATE to access the Frozen Flame again, since the Prometheus Lock allowed biological matches of the Arbiter access to the Flame. Serge, believing FATE is the enemy, journeyed to the Dead Sea and is empowered by the Dragon Gods later. He used the Dragon Tear of the Home World Dimension to regain his body; it is shattered and he retrieved a shard from it as well. Serge eventually made it to Chronopolis, and battled FATE. After the computer's defeat, it is revealed that the Dragon Gods were merely using him as a tool to regain the Frozen Flame. The Dragon Gods, no longer subjugated by FATE, linked together to form THE original Dragon God, and stole the Frozen Flame from Chronopolis. Dinopolis rose again as Terra Tower. Serge trekked there and defeated the Dragon God; it is then revealed that the Dragon God had long since been consumed by the Time Devourer.
Belthasar explained that all of the transpired events were enacted simply so that Serge would be empowered and able enough to fight the Time Devourer and free Schala. Serge took the shards of the Dragon Tears to a Dragonian shrine, and they formed the Chrono Cross, an artifact capable of wondrous and healing things -- including the unification of the dimensions back into one strain, and the freedom of Schala from the Time Devourer. Using a Time Egg, the same device by which Crono was resurrected in Chrono Trigger, Serge ventured to the Darkness Beyond Time, where the Time Devourer resided, and freed Schala. The dimensions were unified into one; at this point, little is known of the resolution of Chrono Cross. Serge apparently forgot the adventure; Schala and Kid were said to have merged into one entity and Schala is hinted to have been sent into another dimension entirely. It has been theorized that Schala went back to find Janus and would return to Serge again, even though Serge may not remember her. This was not entirely known for sure to happen, but it would explain Serge getting married to Kid someday who was said to have merged with Schala into a single entity. This would also end Janus' search for his sister, Schala, since she would go back to find him. It is also unknown precisely how the dimensions came together, and whether they adopted one dimension's history predominantly or collated to form a sort of ideal dimension. Now that the Time Devourer has been eliminated, however, Belthasar's plan is complete, and the future can presumably continue on in prosperity.
The Lost Storyline?
The story above may not be the plot as originally intended for Chrono Cross. Signs point to another overarching storyline that involved Serge binding with the Time Devourer itself; in this scenario, Serge, if he did not defeat the Time Devourer with the Chrono Cross, would ultimately bind with it and cause the Devourer to mature, granting him the power to consume space-time. Chrono Cross Ultimania mainly supports this notion, claiming that the Arbiter of the Frozen Flame must mediate between his fellow life-forms and Lavos, or else he will inevitably bind with the creature and spell destruction for other humans. Ultimania also postulates that Schala was an Arbiter of the Frozen Flame while it existed in Zeal, and that is how she came to bind with Lavos. Apparently, the Time Devourer needed enough power before it could reach maturity, and Serge would have been the final piece in the puzzle. Quotes in the game also seem to hint at this possibility; three come to mind specifically. A demi-human in Marbule states that "anyone who touches that Flame will become a different being." Lynx, at Viper Manor, warns Serge that "there shall be a deep enmity between you and the world" once destruction occurs. Lastly, Belthasar notes that the Arbiter will gain "extraordinary powers...by binding with the new seed of destruction, the Devourer of Time." However, this storyline is not directly stated or implied in Chrono Cross, and neither has series creator Masato Kato confirmed it himself. For the time being, it remains speculation made by the Ultimania authors. Considering that in the same book, they contradict other canon (such as stating the Prometheus Circuit is not Robo, when Masato Kato noted that the circuit is Robo), the veracity of Ultimania is arguable.
The story of Chrono Cross begins with Serge, who must collect colorful scales on the beach for his girlfriend. The setting is El Nido, a tropical archipelago inhabited by ancient natives, mainland colonists, and beings called Demi-humans who are often prejudiced against. While meeting his girlfriend, Serge slips into an alternate dimension in which he drowned on the beach ten years prior. While searching for truth behind his supposed death, Serge meets the famous thief Kid, a teenage girl intent on finding the mysterious Frozen Flame. Serge joins her search, and they recruit help and infiltrate Viper Manor, rumored to host the artifact. Viper Manor is home to the Acacia Dragoons—the combative, affluent, and revered protectors of the island. While in the manor's library, a mysterious old man known as the prophet of time reveals that ten years before the present, the universe split into two dimensions—one in which Serge lived (Home world), and one in which he perished (Another world). The shadowy antagonist Lynx foils the break-in, poisoning Kid and causing the would-be thieves to flee.
Kid eventually recuperates, and Serge prepares to sojourn to Fort Dragonia, an ancient ruin left by Dragonians—a mysterious race gone extinct a hundred years before. There, the Acacia Dragoons intend to make a stand against an invading continental army of Porre. While preparing, Serge gains the ability to travel between the dimensions and secure further assistance and items—including the Water Dragon's breath, capable of freezing lava. He attempts to voyage by boat to the fort's shores, but is interrupted by the pirate Fargo. Initially imprisoned, Serge is freed when the ship comes under attack from ghosts. After earning Fargo's respect, Serge enters the fort and ascends to its highest floor. Through the use of a Dragonian artifact called the Dragon Tear, Lynx switches bodies with Serge. Unknowing of the switch, Kid confides in Lynx; he stabs her as the real Serge helplessly watches. Lynx boasts of his victory and banishes Serge to a strange realm called the Temporal Vortex. He takes Kid under his wing, brainwashing her to believe the real Serge is her enemy.
Serge escapes with help from Harle. Discovering that his new body prevents him from traveling across the dimensions, he is marooned in Home world. He sets out to regain his former body and learn more of the universal split ten years earlier. He speaks with his mother and recruits new members to his cause. Hearing that a Demi-human sage confined on a cruise ship may be able to help him, he journeys to the S.S. Zelbess. He gains the sage's favor, and is given an artifact that allows access to the Dead Sea, a mysterious body of water. While attempting to enter, he discovers the evil sword Masamune and must counter it with the holy sword Einlanzer. Once inside the Dead Sea, he finds a wasteland frozen in time, dotted with futuristic ruins. At the center, he locates a man named Miguel and presumably Home world's Frozen Flame. Charged with guarding the Dead Sea by an entity named FATE, Miguel unsuccessfully battles Serge. To prevent Serge from obtaining the Frozen Flame, FATE destroys the Dead Sea. Still in Lynx's body, Serge is rescued by a Dragon, one of six mythical entities who inhabit El Nido.
Able to return to Another world, Serge finds the Acacia Dragoons in dire straits from Porre's invasion and rescues General Viper's daughter. After collecting six relics from the Dragons, he locates that dimension's Dragon Tear and travels to Fort Dragonia to initiate a ceremony to recreate his body. He succeeds after staving off Lynx at the base of the fortress. With the Dragon relics in tow, he enters the Sea of Eden, Another world's physical equivalent of the Dead Sea. He finds a temporal research facility called Chronopolis—inside are Lynx, Kid, and the Frozen Flame. Confronted by Serge, Lynx bonds with the entity FATE—the main computer of the facility—to defeat the boy in battle. He is unsuccessful, and with FATE's capitulation, the defense systems of Chronopolis fall. After uniting in air, the six Dragons fly over the facility and scoop up the Frozen Flame. Kid falls into a coma, and Harle bids the party goodbye to fly with the Dragons. The new villains soar to Terra Tower, a massive structure raised from the sea floor.
Serge regroups his party and tends to Kid, who remains comatose. Continuing his adventure, he obtains and cleanses the Masamune. He then uses the Dragon relics and shards of the Dragon Tears to create the mythic Element Chrono Cross. The spiritual power of the Masamune later allows him to lift Kid from her coma and prepare to assault Terra Tower. He outfits his boat with an anti-gravity device and travels to battle the Dragons. At Terra Tower, the prophet of time—revealed to be Belthasar from Chrono Trigger—visits him and imparts the boy's history. This information is later elaborated on by accompanied apparitions. Serge learns that the time research facility Chronopolis created El Nido thousands of years ago after a catastrophic experimental failure drew it to the past. The introduction of a temporally foreign object in history caused the planet to pull in a counterbalance from a different dimension. This was Dinopolis, a city of Dragonians—parallel universe descendants Chrono Trigger's Reptites. The institutions warred and Chronopolis subjugated the Dragonians. Humans captured their chief creation—the Dragon God, an entity capable of controlling nature.
Chronopolis divided this entity into six pieces and created an Elements system, which individuals could use for combat or trade. FATE terraformed an archipelago, erased the memories of most Chronopolis's staff, and sent them to inhabit and populate its new paradise. Chronopolis remained obscured from view by clouds and surrounded by poisonous reef. Thousands of years later, a panther demon attacked three-year old Serge. His father took him to find assistance at Marbule, but Serge's boat blew off course due to a raging magnetic storm caused by Schala. Schala—the princess of the Kingdom of Zeal—had long ago accidentally fallen to a place known as the Darkness Beyond Time and began merging with Lavos, the chief villain of Chrono Trigger. Schala's storm nullified Chronopolis's defenses and allowed Serge to contact the Frozen Flame. Approaching it healed Serge but corrupted his father. By touching the Flame, Serge was designated its Arbiter by a circuit in Chronopolis, simultaneously preventing FATE from using the artifact by extension. The Dragons were aware of this situation, creating a seventh Dragon under the storm's cover. This Dragon was Harle, who manipulated Lynx by serving as his accomplice.
After Serge returned home, FATE manipulated his father to try and kill the boy, which would release the lock on the Frozen Flame. His father drowned Serge and became Lynx. However, ten years after the event, the thief Kid—presumably on Belthasar's orders—went back in time to save Serge and split the dimensions. FATE, locked out of the Frozen Flame again, knew that Serge would one day cross to Another world and prepared to apprehend him. Lynx switched bodies with Serge to dupe the biological check of Chronopolis on the Frozen Flame. When Serge defeated FATE, the freed Dragons snatched the Frozen Flame and raised Terra Tower. Belthasar then reveals that these events were part of a plan he had orchestrated named Project Kid–and that its final purpose would soon be revealed. Serge continues to the top of Terra Tower and defeats the Dragon God.
Continuing to the beach where the split in dimensions had occurred, Serge finds three apparitions resembling the original team from Chrono Trigger. More of the game's history is revealed, such as the revelation that Belthasar planned the entire plot to empower Serge and free Schala from melding with Lavos. The resulting fused being—called the Time Devourer—would consume and destroy spacetime. Lucca explains that Kid is Schala's clone, sent to the modern age to take part in Project Kid. Crono entreats Serge to use the Chrono Cross to free Schala. Serge uses a Time Egg—given to him by Belthasar—to enter the Darkness Beyond Time and vanquish the Time Devourer. He separates Schala from Lavos and restores the dimensions to one. Thankful, Schala muses on evolution and the struggle of life and returns Serge to his home, noting that he will forget the entire adventure. She then seemingly records the experience in her diary, set upon a desk on which a wedding photo of Kid and Serge appears. She then embarks on a mysterious search for Serge as cut scenes depict her walking through a modern city. The ambiguous ending leaves the events of the characters' lives following the game up to interpretation.
For specific events that occurred during Serge's quest, check the Chronology.
Good companion articles include Chronopolis, Viper Manor, and Serge. You can also read about who manipulated who at Chrono Cross (Manipulation within). Find out what may have happened in the ending at Chrono Cross Resolutions.
Lastly, these charts, explained further in the article Principles of Time and Dimensional Travel, better depict the progression of timelines and dimensions:
Thanks be to the Compendium and its readers.