Tempo Trigger Chapter 1
The rain continued to pour down, even though the sky lightened. The water poured down his face, half blinding him, but he didn't care. The coffin was in front of him again. After countless times, when he had thought he was done with this for good, the coffin was in front of him.
'God, not this again.' As the people gathered closer to the grave wept to each other, and the coffin began to be lowered into the ground, he remained stoic. He could handle it now, he had seen it replayed in his dreams so many times. At least, that's what he told himself. 'Why can't it be an open casket funeral?' He had demanded.
'The body's pretty messed up, kid. Whoever killed her did a damn fine job, and it looks like they took a while too.'
'Even her face? I just want to see her one last time, if only to say goodbye.'
'Sorry kid. The family requested it this way. Her face only has a couple bruises, and one cut, but it looks like she was strangled, and had her throat slashed.'
He had clenched his fist, yet again. 'Have the police seen all this? Was there any evidence of sexual assault?'
'Yeah, they took a good long look. There may have been evidence, but like I said, the body was really messed up. I mean, everywhere. Someone was practicing their carving skills.'
'Is their any clue who did this?'
'Not so far. Any finger prints were washed away by all the blood. But the police are on it.'
'But there's no need.' He blinked now as the rain dripped in his eyes. 'I know who it was. Even if there's no evidence, I know who it was.' Then, his eyes widened as the object of his hatred actually appeared, walking slowly toward the still open grave. Shaking off his amazement, he ran over to the grave. "How dare you actually show up here?!" He roared at the top of his lungs.
"Such theatrics." The man scoffed. "She was my friend too."
"You killed her!!" He roared in the other man's face. "And I'm pretty damn sure you raped her before, and maybe afterward too. How dare you show up here?! Isn't it enough that you took her away from me?"
"That wasn't why." He looked up at the sky, oblivious to the pouring rain. "You need to forget about me. You've got bigger fish to fry."
"I don't think so. And even if I do, I swear I'll kill you someday, Garin!"
"Not too damn likely. Forget about it. Forget about her. You've dwelled far too long on this. It's unbecoming for one like you." Then, the scene faded to black.
'I'll never forget Rena, and especially not you!!' He shouted. To what, he didn't know.
Then, a dim light lit up his subconcious, as if coming from a distant fire. Something large came into view. It seemed like he was flying over a dim fire late at night, but he realized that wasn't it. A huge circular mound sat over a bed of lava. He could clearly see as he drew closer. There were gigantic spikes sticking up everywhere out of the circular object, and there were small spikes sticking out of those. Suddenly, a five pronged pod on the front of the object opened wide, casting an eerie blue glow on the area. Combined with the red of the lava, an eerie purple light flooded the room. 'So, more heroic telepathy at work.' A scornful voice filled his head. 'It doesn't matter. Make my presence known to all the heroes you want. I can never be defeated, now that I am grown, and strong. I will destroy all those who oppose me.' Then, the blue light grew much stronger, and the pod emitted a horrible noise. Nothing human could ever duplicate the sound. It eventually tapered off, and ended in a burbling noise, as if someone's throat were being cut.
He blinked his sleep filled eyes as sunlight filled the room. "Get up Tempo!" His dad shouted at him. "Or else you're going to be late for Soultech training!"
"I should be done training." Tempo complained as he sat up, rubbing his eyes. "I swear the council is holding me back in favor of their own relatives."
"They're holding you back because they believe you need more training!" His father reprimanded him. "Besides, today's the day for promotions. We'll see if you're ready yet."
"I forgot about that." Tempo got out of bed, then rooted through his dresser for his Soultech uniform. A long, thick, short sleeved green shirt that really could have been a robe on a short person, thick black pants, and heavy brown boots. He started to get dressed as his dad left the room. 'What kind of dream was that?' He wondered to himself. 'Certainly a new twist on an old nightmare.' He reached up on the wall for his weapon, what the Soultech academy termed a "training mace." It was a solid metal ball on the end of a short staff, but without any spikes. 'I swear Rena, when they let me have a real one of these, I'll kill Garin for you. And for me too, to be honest.' As a secondary precaution, he also pulled out a whip and wrapped it into his belt, next to the mace. He hurried downstairs and ate a bowl of cereal without even stopping to see what kind it was. Then he got up and made for the door.
"I want you back before midnight tonight!" His dad shouted.
"I'll see what I can do." Tempo responded dryly, then went outside before his dad could say anything else. He jogged down the hill his house was on, toward the Soultech academy of Locorn city, barely visible through the trees in the distance. He was about halfway there when a hand suddenly pounded him on the back.
"Tempo, my man! Where have you been?" Tempo whirled around to find his best friend, Sowell, standing behind him. "The band's been missing you at practice. It's hard to keep the beat without our drummer, you know?"
"Yeah, well, I've been busy lately."
"Working out because you knew promotions were coming up?"
"You know me too well."
"Well, I hate to tell you this, but maybe I better so you don't have to go in there today. They gave the squireship to Garin. You're still a page, for now."
"What the hell?!" Tempo burst out. "I could beat Garin easily! He may be better with a weapon than me, but if we ever fought each other with our powers, I'd kick his ass so hard!..."
"You probably would." Sowell nodded. "Look, they just gave it to him because he's Lord Nagar's son. Everyone knows it. Besides, you should save your powers for someone worth the trouble."
'Oh, he's worth the trouble.' Tempo thought to himself, but said nothing out loud. He hadn't brought up his suspicions about Rena's death to anyone else, not even Sowell.
"Look, there's plenty of other councilor's sons in your class. Maybe you should be looking for another job."
"I don't really want to..." Tempo frowned.
"What? Just because your father used to be a Soultech commander?"
"No, because of my mother..." He continued to frown.
"Oh yeah. Sorry man. I thought your primary moping was over Rena now. Oops!" He looked embarrassed as he realized what he had said.
"No, now my "primary moping," as you call it, is about them both." They both remained silent for a minute. "So what kind of other job are you talking about?"
"The mine's looking for new workers. Some of it's part time. I think you could handle it."
"I don't ever wanna work in that place, or any place like it, without getting to see what it's really like in there before I sign up."
"Easy. Sneak in and take a look around while they're on break."
"You gotta be kidding me."
"Why not? Besides, you don't want to go in to Soultech when Garin will be overly full of himself, do you?"
"I suppose I've got nothing to lose."
"Great! I've got to get to work now. And show up at practice tonight all right? We can't play at Locorn high school during halftime Saturday if you're not there."
"I'll see what I can do." Tempo grinned.
"Sheeyah, right! Show up, okay?" Then, he ran off up the hill. Tempo slowly began to head toward the mine, but continued to circle close to the academy anyway.
"Hey Tempo!" Someone called.
'Urgh! What does everbody want this morning?' He demanded of himself, before turning around. "Oh, Silva! Good morning."
"I'm afraid it's not so good." The girl responded. She was dressed in jeans and a short blue shirt, her long blonde hair flowing over her shoulders. "Garin got the promotion."
"I heard." He grimaced. "I'm thinking of going over to the mine and checking out the scene there." She laughed a little. "What? You don't think I could handle it?"
"No, not really." Silva's smile vanished. "I hate to say it, but you haven't been able to handle much since my sister died."
"How can I, when I know her killer is laughing at me, every day?!" He suddenly grew angry.
"You think it doesn't bother me too? I think about her every day, but there was never any evidence to indicate who it was. Just an example of human cruelty."
"I can handle mine work." He quickly changed the subject. "Sorry about the outburst, but you know how..."
"I know. But we all need to move on. And staying on that subject, are you still taking me out Saturday night?"
"I suppose." He rubbed the back of his head nervously. "But you know I need to be at the school to set up with the rest of the band fairly early, right?"
"Sure. That's all right. I hope you actually show up. So you're serious about the mine?"
"I didn't think so, but I suppose."
"Can I go over there with you?"
"I don't see why not, although you might miss lunch..." 'But that's never been a problem for you.' He grimaced to himself. They made their way south to the mine entrance. Tempo lounged around the entrance for a while, making small talk until the miners started coming out for their lunch break. He grabbed Silva and ducked behind one of the many boulders near the entrance.
"You don't exactly have permission for this, do you?" Silva whispered.
"One might say that." He grinned at her. "Shh!" He wanted to hear what the miners were saying. He wasn't disappointed, as he could hear them fairly clearly.
"I tell ya Earl, I struck somethin' weird down at the bottom of the east shaft. I dunno what the hell it is. Looked kinda blue."
"Relax, Bill. We'll check it out after lunch. Don' worry about it."
After the last of them headed off, Tempo ran into the entrance, Silva following close behind. He hadn't gone very far inside, when the tunnel seemed to end suddenly. "Damn it! Let my eyes adjust here..."
"You're in an elevator shaft." Silva told him, stifling a gigle.
"Oh. Cool. Activate it and hop inside."
"You're really going all the way down there?" She was surprised.
"Of course? How else can I get an accurate idea of the conditions?"
"You could ask the miners, you know."
"Ah yes, but that would be too simple." He grinned again.
"Then I'll stay up here, if it's all the same to you. I'm a bit claustrophobic."
"Suit yourself." Tempo finally found a lever as his eyes adjusted, and he yanked it downward. "See you soon." The elevator then dropped down the shaft at a surprising pace, before finally stopping to rest in a very dimly lit area. 'Hmm... I'm not fond of the lack of light.' He grimaced. He found a pick axe resting next to some complicated drilling equipment, and hefted it up. 'I could handle this.' He swung it around a few times. 'Let's see what's down here.' He walked further down the tunnel, and noticed that there were even fewer lights.
He turned a corner far down the line, and suddenly came to a stop. He was up against a dead end. 'Guess that's the end of that. Time to be heading back up anyw... Hello! What have we here?' He spotted a dim blue glow in the cave wall. He reached up and touched the small, smooth area, and it seemed to brighten a little at his touch. 'This is weird! I have to see what it is. Guess it's time to really test out this thing.' He swung the pick axe again, trying to avoid hitting the odd substance. He accidentally hit it dead on once, but it seemed impervious to the swing. He eventually gave up that activity when he had uncovered about five feet veritcally and three feet horizontally, and there was still no end in sight. 'Okay... So what is this thing?' He demanded of himself, hitting it with the axe again. Nothing happened. 'Sheesh. Maybe I wouldn't be able to do this all day after all.' He leaned back against the odd blue surface.
Suddenly, a brilliant blue glow lit up the mine. "Gaah!" He jumped forward, and the glow stopped. "What the...? It's touch activated?" He stepped back for a second. 'I'm not sure I should be messing with this.' He looked at the palm of his hand for a second. 'Aw, what the hell? Why not? Here we go!' Then he reached out again, and laid his palm flat on the surface. He winced and closed his eyes as the blinding blue glow filled the tunnel again. It finally seemed to dim, after nearly blinding him even with his eyes closed. As he opened his eyes, he noticed not only that most of the odd substance had melted away, but that his palm was now resting on another outstretched hand. He jumped back in surprise as a young woman fell forward out of the odd structure, groaning. "Whoah! Hey, um... Are you all right?" 'What in the hell is going on here?!' He kneeled down to check on her. A blue glow continued to come from the broken, crystal like substance, providing ample light. He started to feel for a pulse, but the woman pulled her arm away from him.
"Don't bother..." She whispered in a hoarse voice. "I'll be fine in a minute. Thanks for getting me out of there, whoever you are."
"My name's Tempo." He stood up, then reached his arms down to help her up as well.
She took his hands, almost as if she was bored. "I suppose it's nice to meet you..." Then she stopped, and blinked suddenly, as if she was seeing something that wasn't there. "Did you say Tempo?"
He nodded as he helped her to her feet. "That's right. Something the matter?"
An incredibly happy look crossed her face, but she seemed to supress it. "No. Nothing's wrong. My name is Schala of... Well, just call me Schala."
"All right Schala. What exactly happened to you? Or should I even be asking?"
"I don't think you should, and you wouldn't believe me if I told you anyway."
"Very well. Whatever is going on here, we should get out of this place."
"I agree." Schala took a step forward, then collapsed again.
"Whoah! I'm sorry, do you need any help?" He helped her back up, then put her arm around his shoulders, supporting her.
"I'm fine, really." She protested, but he paid no attention. "Okay..." She smiled a little.
They walked like that for a way, until they arrived at where Tempo thought the elevator should be. "What the...? There should be an elevator here." He squinted in the darkness. "I can barely see. Are the lights going out back there?"
"Back where?" Schala was puzzled.
"What do you mean? I..." Tempo's voice trailed off as he turned around. His nose was just inches from solid rock. There was no evidence that a tunnel had ever been behind him. "I must be hallucinating." He shook his head, very confused. Turning to face forward again, he saw there was a vertical shaft leading upward in front of him, but no elevator was inside. "Don't tell me we're stuck down here!"
"Hardly." Schala grinned, then pulled the pendant out of her robes. It was glowing a very dim blue. "Whoah. This thing's really running low, but it should have enough power to get us out of here." Schala closed her eyes, then they were suddenly floating up through the shaft at a rapid pace. Tempo decided that it would be best not to say anything. He wouldn't know where to begin anyway. Looking down, he saw that the rock was following them up the shaft. When they eventually reached the top, there was no evidence that it had ever been there.
"Finally! I see daylight up ahead." Tempo raced for the exit, Schala following slowly behind. Just as he reached the entrance, there was another blinding flash of blue, and they were suddenly standing side by side next to a solid hillside. The mine had vanished. But that was the least of Tempo's worries. "I don't think we're in Locorn anymore..."
"You're uneasy... But happy? Because I'm here? I'm sorry... I don't understand." - Aerith Gainsborough
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