Chronos is one of the main factions in the manga Black Cat and its anime adaptation. Although most members introduced in the story are benevolent characters, the organization as a whole can be considered a major villain whose methods to maintain global law and order are questionable.
Chronos is a clandestine organization that controls one third of the world economy and politics. They are commanded by a Council of Elders, and all of their high-ranking officials are highly influential businessmen or statesmen. While some of them are arrogant, self-righteous and obnoxious, there are many who genuinely care about the people of the town or country that they govern. Chronos controls legions of erasers (assassins) under the command of an elite assassin squad called the "Chrono Numbers" (known in some adaptations as the "Time Guardians").
The aim of Chronos is to ensure and maintain its supremacy using any possible methods, even if it includes genocide or the death of innocents, or any person that they may consider “evil” (ie: opposing them). Despite being deeply corrupt and malevolent, Chronos has so much influence that its existence is mandatory to prevent the world from collapsing into chaos and civil war, making it a necessary evil.
In order to keep order in the world, they kept everything about them secret, knowing if any of their workings were to come out chaos would surely follow. At first they try to either recruit back or kill Train Heartnet (the former N° XIII and primary protagonist) to ensure silence. However their attention soon changes towards a new threat: The Apostles of the Star, a terrorist faction bent on their annihilation led by a now former member, Creed Diskenth.
It is also revealed during the final battle that twenty-five years before the start of the story, the Tao Masters of the Mysterious Continent of Yamto declared war on Chronos to take over the world, forcing the Chrono Numbers to wipe them out after a long and gruelling war that claimed the life of ten Chrono Numbers; (the only remaining survivor being N° XII Mason Ordrosso). No further explanation is given, but it is hinted that Chronos was somehow involved with the Tao Masters before that war. Two surviving Tao Master came in contact with Creed and granted him the power of Tao, that gives the Apostles the power to rival the Chrono Numbers themselves.
In the Manga
During the first chapters, Train, who now lives as a "Sweeper" (bounry-hunter) is approached by a former disciple who asks him to go back to Chronos or get killed, but he stands no chance against Train who kills him in a duel. Train and his partners Sven Vollfield and Eve eventually meet N° II Belze Rochefort, who gives them a message from Carl Walken, a Chronos official who took care of Train in his childhood, who asks for his help against the demented murderer Ganzer Lejick.
Belze later confronts Charden Flamberg and Kyoko Kirisaki, two Apostles of the Star whom he tracked down for weeks and attempts to kill them. While Belze is too powerful for them to handle one-on-one, they drive him into a corner as soon as they start fighting together. However, the battle is eventually stopped when Shiki and Creed come to take their subordinates away, and the Apostles retreat.
Having witnessed first-hand the Apostles' power, Belze spends the following moths trying to warn the Elders and the officials, but they refuse to take them seriously until it is too late.
War against the Apostles
After the Apostles of the Star enter the World Conference meeting in San Geles and kill all twenty world-leaders (which included seven high-ranking officials of Chronos), The Council of Elders decides to post a three billion yen bounty on Creed's head and make the eradication of the Apostles the Chrono Numbers' absolute priority.
N° I Sephiria Arks and N° II Belze Rochefort then ask Train for assistance, telling him about the bounty. Sephiria later recruits the thief-for-hire Rinslet Walker, a friend of Train, to gather information on the Apostles of the Star. After she succeeds, Sephiria tasks her to go with the Cerberus unit, a strike-team of three Chrono Numbers, to Stoke Town: a city where twenty sweepers who went after Creed were found dead, in order to find and kill Creed.
Since Creed had once been in contact with Rinslet, Sephiria intends her to serve as a bait to lead Cerberus into Creed's castle, in the mountains near Stock Town. Also, N° X, Lin Shao Lee is tasked to lure Train and his bounty hunter friends there to take part in the fight. In the end, the Chrono Numbers have to fight a nanomachine-powered Werewolf to save Rinslet, before engaging a battle with Creed and his Apostles. The mission results in failure, as the Apostles blow up their castle before fleeing. N° XI Beluga J. Heard had to sacrifice his life to allow N° VII Jenos Hazard to escape safely with a critically wounded N° V Naizer Bruckheimer.
Few days later, the most violent Chrono Numbers, N° IV Kranz Maduke and N° VIII Baldorias S. Fanghini, head for Stock Town on their own accord, to kill the Apostles of the Star who were seen there. Not long after, they find Kyoko Kirisaki (who had recently deserted from the Apostles and befriended Train, swearing never to kill again). They attempt to kill her, only to be stopped by a de-aged Train and Jenos’ intervention.
Upon hearing of her oath and Train's request to spare her, Sephiria asks to meet her in person. She bluffs about threatening to kill her if she does not become one of Chronos' erasers, to test her resolve. Upon seeing Kyoko's earnest refusal to kill, a pleased Sephiria sends her back to her country to live a normal life.
Battle of Clarken IslandTwo month later, Lin Shao Lee manages to track down the Apostles of the Star and to discover their main hideout on Clarken Island. He later uses a false identity to create an elite task force made of the best bounty-hunters to date. The plan is to send them on Clarken Island and have them fight the Apostles, while a group of Chrono Numbers would invade the island, allowing Sephiria Arks to fight Creed himself.
After most of the Apostles were defeated and most of the bounty-hunters too wounded to fight, the Chrono Numbers help them retreat before having to deal with the Phantom Star Brigade. Meanwhile, Sephiria challenges Creed to a one-on-one duel. She proves a better swordsfighter and deals three fatal strikes, each direr than the previous, but she is unable to overcome his nanomachines of immortality and ends up severely wounded, only owing her life to Train's intervention.
After Train defeats Creed, and the rest of the number successfully destroy all the Apostle's lairs. The Numbers give Train a quick thanks and depart. In the end, Chronos still retains its grasp over the world.
In the Anime
The anime adaptation makes several changes to the story. It begins with Train still being N° XIII, and depicts several events that happened during flashbacks, while altering them. Contrary to the manga, all Chrono Numbers are introduced. Some of them, mainly Sephiria, Lin and Mason Ordrosso also have large changes in personality.
Mixing backstory and beginning
Train is first seen tasked to kill Eve, a small girl with nanomachines in her body that makes her a dangerous bio-weapon, raised by the weapon dealer Torneo Rudman. There, he meets the former secret agent and bounty-hunter Sven Vollfield and the thief-for-hire Rinslet Walker, who thwart his assassination. (This is different from the manga, in which Train and Sven are partners to begin with and set up the plot by taking down Torneo and rescuing Eve.)
Sven eventually takes Eve in after Torneo is dealt with. Train also befriends the cheerful bounty-hunter Saya Minatsuki, whom he saves from the psychotic, super-powered murderer Preta Ghoul. (The manga puts a stronger emphasis on Saya's influence on Train's life. As for Preta, he only appears much later.)
Meanwhile, Creed strikes a bargain with the Tao Masters Shiki and Maro and defects from Chronos to form the Apostles of the Star. When N° V and X are sent to kill him, he slays N° X, Ash and departs. Creed eventually kills Saya to stop her "influence" over Train, prompting the Black Cat to leave Chronos and become a bounty-hunter. He eventually joins Sven, Eve and Rinslet. (In the manga, Creed murders Ash and Saya long before meeting the Tao Masters. It is also hinted that he had already deserted from Chronos at the time of the murders.)
War against the Apostles
At first, Train has to protect Eve from the Chrono Numbers, as the girl is still Chronos' target, and must fight N° I Sephiria Arks herself, who labels him a traitor and wants to kill him. But very soon, the threat of Creed's Apostles of the Star becomes both Chronos' and the protagonists' number one priority.
The conflict is more or less the same as in the manga. Between the Battle of the Old Castle and the Battle of Clarken Island, Charden Flamberg defects from the Apostles of the Star and resolves to destroy Chronos; challenging Sephiria herself to learn where to find the Council of the Elders. Train eventually stops their battle and urges Charden to let go of his hatred. (This plotline was hinted but eventually aborted in the manga.)
During the battle of Clarken Island, N° IX David Fapper fights Maro in a battle in which they both gets killed. Sephiria reaches Creed and defeats Echidna Pallas, but Creed defeats her. (Contrary to the manga, in which she dominates the entire fight, the battle is completely one-sided and Creed does not spare her a single glance, being busy playing the piano while his sentient blade does all the fighting.) She does give Train a special bullet with which he defeats Creed and strikes the villain to provide a distraction at the very end.
The final Story Arc of the anime, setting a plot that does not happen in the manga. After Creed's defeat, it is revealed that N° III, IV and VIII, along with Doctor and Shiki from the Apostles are part of the treacherous Zero Numbers. It is also revealed that Doctor was Dr Tearyu's assistant in Eve's creation and that Eve herself was meant to enact a project called "Eden".This project consists in dousing the entire world, city after city, with a rain of Tao-infused nanomachines that would unify the thoughts of everyone in the world into Eden: a huge, sentient aircraft. This would enable the Zero Numbers to rule the whole world into a dystopia, with every human being's consciousness unified and their bodies used as a fuel by Eden.
The Zero Numbers send a swarm of monsters born from Eden's fusion of Tao and nanomachines to destroy Chronos's headquarters and kill the Elders, while the Chrono Numbers are busy fighting the Apostles of the Star on Clarken Island. As a result, the organization takes a huge decline in finance and human resources. The protagonists and the Sweepers' League join force with the remaining Chrono Numbers and the reformed Apostles of the Star, to invade Eden in order to set Eve free before she gets completely assimilated.
After the zero Numbers' defeat, the remaining Chrono Numbers promise to rebuild Chronos with Sephiria as the new leader of the organization.
Supreme Elder Willzark
|“|| "Black Cat, you are not allowed to desire freedom, for you are nothing but our domesticated cat, to us Chronos."|
"Stray cats and domesticated cats are both meant to live free."
|~ Willzark arguing with Train about the Number's freedom|
The Elders are depicted as very old men with long beards clad in rich dark robes, and oddly enough long, pointy ears. Willzark is the only Elder to have a defined personality, the other two (named Kin and Shin) seem to follow what he says and agree with him, while displaying angrier and more scornful dispositions.
Willzark is regal and collected, and never ever raises his voice, issuing orders calmly. But more importantly, he is extremely haughty and conceited and cannot stand opposition. To him, his rule over the world goes without saying and all those who contest it are deluded fools who must be taken care of immediately. He regards his subordinates as inferiors meant to follow his every command and scornfully dismisses Train's desire for freedom. His controlling outlook is so strong that even though him calling Train a "domesticated cat" was the last straw to make him desert, he remains unable to understand why Train wants a life where he would be able to do as he pleases, but would live in poverty, rather than a life of power and luxury in which he can only obey orders.
Willzark has very little role in the story, and never appears in the anime adaptation. He is seen after the attack on the World Conference, along with Kin and Shin, ordering Sephiria to destroy the Apostles of the Star. He is then seen in Train's flashback, scolding N° XIII for no longer killing his targets and sentencing him to two weeks of imprisonment. After that, he orders Sephiria to ban him from the Chrono Numbers and take back his Black Gun, retrograding him as a simple eraser. Yet, Train soon steals back his gun before defecting for good.
The Chrono Numbers
The elite brigade of Chronos: a group of thirteen highly powerful warriors, each being unmatchably skilled in the use of a specific weapon. They all bear a tattoo indicating their Number and wield a weapon specially designed for them, made of Orichalcos (a very rare and indestructible metal) and named after a deity or a mythological figure. Their weapons range from the classical to the improbable, but are all deadly, and often come with a specific device to increase their efficiency. They all display superhuman fighting skills, speed, stamina and reflexes; being able to casually jump atop buildings or dodge and block bullets.
N° I Sephiria Arks
The leader of the Chrono Numbers and far and away the mightiest of them, Sephiria is a supremely talented swordswoman, immensely fast and spry. Only Train surpasses her and only Creed and Shiki, at full power, can match her. She can juggle a glass of water on the tip of her sword without spilling a single drop, and casually carve or shatter stone. She specializes in lightning fast moves and her deadliest attack, "Apocalypse", obliterates her targets with a tremendous onslaught of supersonic strikes, but puts a big strain on body. Her sabre, Christ, is named after the patron of Christian religion. Also, she wears an explosive bangle set to detonate when she dies, so that her foe would be killed even if she were to lose a fight.
In the manga, Sephiria is an unquestionably good person, collected, smiling and friendly, who loves relaxing atmospheres. She cares for her (current and former) subordinates, she is willing to spare former enemies should they really be reformed, and she hates seeing people die regardless of their side. Still, she is absolutely devoted to Chronos and will accomplish all missions or terminate all threats no matter what. She is ready to manipulate and sacrifice everyone who can prove useful, though she strongly dislikes doing so.
In the anime adaptation however, she is reduced to a violent zealot who considers any opposition to Chronos as a personal affront and would track down mercilessly all traitors. She does slightly mellow out during the course of the story though, to the point of accepting to cooperate with former enemies, but she still refuses to change her ways even after Chronos is destroyed.
N° II Belze Rochefort
The Second-in-command of the Chrono Numbers and their second mightiest fighter; Belze wields a great spear called Gungnir (named after the spear of the God King Odin in Norse Mythology), but he also wears a fireproof coat and is not above using powerful bombs to kill his foes.
All Chrono Numbers defer to Belze, who gives them Sephiria's orders, coordinates their actions and the information network, and reports to Sephiria. However, he is also a man of action who never hesitates to takes matters in hand. Belze is close friend with Sephiria and they are often seen discussing about their mission, plan of action, or problems with some Numbers.
Belze is tall and imposing and never goes easy on women or children in battle, but he is wise, polite and noted for his vast culture. He cares about his subordinates and is friendly to Train, despite him being a traitor whom the Elders want dead. He knows full well that Chronos is morally bankrupt and that many missions are wrong, but he knows as well that without it the world would sink into chaos.
N° III Emilio Lowe
One of the least featured Chrono Numbers; Emilio is a young bespectacled man wielding a bow. He is mentioned without appearing at the very end of the manga (though he is only referred by his number), but the anime adaptation features him as one of the Zero Numbers. He wields a bow named Artemis (after the Roman Goddess of Hunting). He is an expert marksman able to fire three arrows at once towards different targets with flawless precision, and might be able to use his bow and arrows as a melee weapon should the need arise.
N° IV Kranz Maduke
A man raised from birth to be a Chrono number, who is fanatically devoted to Chronos. Behind his collected facade hides a bloodthirsty assassin who would stop at nothing to destroy what he considers an enemy. Despite being blind, he is able to perceive his surroundings with perfect accuracy by sensing sounds and vibrations, and fights with a dagger called Mars, named after the War God of the Roman Pantheon. He can make his dagger vibrate to increase its cutting.
While in the manga his devotion to Chronos is one of his defining characteristics, oddly enough the anime adaptation makes him one of the Zero Numbers.
N° V Naizer Bruckheimer
The leader of the Cerberus strike-team, Naizer holds a staunch grudge against Creed for murdering his partner, N° X Ash, and strives to kill him. He is a rather laid-back and friendly man, even with potential targets, but he is a serious and merciless fighter, although he tends to judge his foes by their appearance rather than their skills.
He wields a pair of tonfas called Dios Kouroy (sons of Zeus) referring to the Gemini, the twins Castor and Pollux from Greek Mythology. He is very fast, he can send very fat men flying with a single blow, or deliver an onslaught of blows fast and strong enough to overcome healing factors. Also, he was seen using a gun as a side weapon.
N° Vl Anubis
Anubis is named after the Egyptian God of the Deads. He only appears in the anime adaptation, and for unknown reasons, he is a large talkative wolf. (Although the manga features the talkative monkey Eathes, his human-like behaviour is explained by his power of Tao, while the anime never explains how Anubis came into existence.)
He is fast and powerful, and in addition to his fangs and claws he wields a scorpion-like tail with a claw at its end, named after Osiris the Egyptian God of the Afterlife. His personality is not much disclosed, but he is seems very serious and appears to be on good terms with Train Heartnet.
N° VII Jenos Hazard
One of the most featured Chrono Numbers; Jenos is a member of the Cerberus strike-team who wields Excellion: a glove with five wires that cut through stone and steel, with which he can effortlessly slash many guns at once or seize things without the slightest laceration.
Jenos is carefree, mischievous, goofy, show-offy, lecherous and a bit immature. He is notable for his constant womanizing (and low success rate). He is the friendliest Chrono Number, and cannot stand making sacrifices to kill a target, a serious flaw in his job. Still, he is an absolutely deadly warrior, that none in their right mind should underestimate. He fights tactically, finding ways to disable foes he cannot directly strike, and always goes all out in battle no matter what, leaving mountains of corpses in his wake.
N° VIII Baldorias S. Fanghini
The most unhinged of all the Chrono Numbers, Baldorias (nicknamed Baldor) is a bloodthirsty and obnoxious man fanatically devoted to Chronos. He teams up with Number IV Kranz Maduke and fights with Heimdall, a rocket-propelled flail named after the God Guardian of the Gates in Nordic Mythology.
While in the manga his devotion to Chronos is one of his defining characteristics, oddly enough the anime adaptation makes him one of the Zero Numbers.
N° IX David Fapper
One of the Chrono Numbers who only appear in the anime adaptation, David is a laid-back and confident man who seems to have a friendly relationship with all Chrono Numbers, Train included. His weapon is Sigurd: a deck of cards named after a hero of the Nordic legends, that can slice through wood, stone and steel. He uses his cards as both melee weapons and projectiles that he can throw on multiple targets at once with perfect accuracy, and even launch as a barrage.
Former N° X Ash
Naizer's partner and best friend who got murdered by Creed; he is mentioned in the manga but his looks and weapon are never revealed. Although he appears in the anime, his last name and the name of his weapon are never disclosed. His weapon is a fighting cane with a pointed blade at its end, which he uses for both blunt blows and slashing/stabbing strikes, with enough skill and strength to destroy concrete with a ground stab.
N° X Lin Shao Lee
The most recent recruit and seemingly youngest Number, Lin Shao Lee is Chronos' best spy. He is an incredibly skilled master of disguise, able to change masks with uncanny ability and to wear one disguise over another, earning the nickname "Magician". He uses one fake identity in the story and is implied to have more, each with a defined background. He has access to vast resources and to Chronos' huge information network, and is tasked with underground intelligence gathering.
In addition to his unique role, he is as skilled in battle as his comrades. His weapon is without a doubt the weirdest and least-threatening looking of all, but far from the least dangerous: Seiren (Siren), a long cloth made of lined Orichalcos threads, which he can deploy as a shield and use as a slashing whip of sorts.
Lin is polite, easy-going, cheerful and modest, but he can prove irritating as he enjoys playing with people's affects and make insensitive comments to test their reaction. He admires Train and deeply respects skilled and driven people, but he is not above tricking them to serve his interest. He is an expert tactician and a manipulator, skilled in selecting people for a defined task. Despite being ruthless in battle, showing no mercy to foes he deems unworthy, he cares about the safety of innocents and goes out of his way to protect the ones he endangered with his manipulations.
In the anime adaptation, Lin is much more obnoxious and his friendly disposition is mostly faked. He hardly veils his scorn for those he deems weaker; but he goes a complete turnaround upon witnessing Train and his friend's dedication to protect innocents, and starts emulating his principles.
N° XI Beluga J. Heard
The tallest, strongest and most imposing of all Chrono Numbers, Beluga is the last member of the Cerberus strike-team. He wields Verethragna (the Giver of Victory in Zoroastrianism) a huge bazooka that he can turn into a mace for close-range fighting after he fires all ammunitions. He was also seen wielding a dagger as a side weapon.
Beluga is a man of few words who tends to set aside feelings during his missions and works to complete his objective no matter the cost. But it does not mean that he enjoys it, and he expresses relief when he can avoid a course of action he disliked. He values his comrades and did not hesitate sacrificing his life so that they could escape. (It must be noted that he was already critically wounded when he did so.)
N° XII Mason Ordrosso
The oldest Number, and a survivor of the war between Chronos and the Tao Masters. He is seen at the end of the manga, but his name and weapon are not disclosed. He supervises the destruction of the Apostles' lairs alongside Belze Rochefort, with whom he amiably ponders on the end of the conflict.
However, the anime adaptation makes him the final villain of the series, leader of the Zero Numbers. He is a cruel and manipulative megalomaniac, who plans to rule the world for eternity; and wields a suit of armour with retractable blades called Á Bao A Qu (a creature from Malay legends). He betrayed Chronos during the war and gained the power of energy manipulation through the Tao. In the two following decades, he manipulated Torneo Rudman and worked with both Chronos and Creed to further his goal.
Former N° XIII Train HeartnetThe primary protagonist of the series; Train Heartnet was ten years old when the hitman who killed his parents “adopted” him and taught him to fight. He was then taken in by Chronos and eventually became the N° XIII, feared worldwide as the "Black Cat". One day, Train left Chronos following the murder of his friend Saya Minatsuki at Creed’s hand. The story follows Train’s quest to settle his score with Creed, along with his partners Sven Vollfield and Eve.
Train is far and away the world’s mightiest warrior. He is astonishingly strong, fast and spry; being able to effortlessly jump from roof to roof, outrun machine-gun fire or punch people through windows. He is an unbelievably skilled marksman, who can shoot down several bullets at once, shoot into gun cannons, shoot several bullets through the same hole, or make his bullets ricochet to strike unpredictably. His gun, named Hades after the Greek God of the Underworld, conceals a long wire for throwing it like a flail or tying his foes, and can serve as a shield. He also uses many types of bullets (explosive, paralyzing) or bombs (grenades, flashlights, glue). His mightiest attacks strikes with four bullets like a cat's claw ("Black Claw"), and bashes twice with his gun in a X pattern ("Black Cross") with tremendous force.
Train was made a brooding and aggressive loner by the hitman’s teachings; but after Saya taught him to enjoy life again, he became cheerful, carefree and happy-go-lucky. He treasures his freedom and his current life, and he gradually reconciles with his past; shedding his killing impulses and resolving to capture Creed alive.
In the anime however, he is way more bitter and aloof. He is so obsessed by his past that he disregards his comrades and rushes in a rage whenever Creed is around, endangering them several times. He only reconciles with his life late in the story, but never really enjoys being a bounty-hunter and departs alone in the end, in absolute contrast with the manga.
Also, Train is considerably weaker in the anime. He never displays half of his tricks from the manga, and he is seen struggling against foes that his manga counterpart would have trounced with little to no trouble.
- The Chronos Numbers are like a clock because Chronos means time so it will be time numbers and since there are twelve members (Number 13 is a special agent so wouldn't count with the rest of the numbers) like the face of a clock.