Tempo Trigger Chapter 11
Previously Unencountered Time
Tempo slowly opened his eyes, and found himself looking a blue sky with a slightly pink tinge to it. As he slowly stretched his muscles, he was glad to find that nothing felt broken. He raised his right hand and found that he was still gripping his mace tightly. He reached up with his left hand and pried his reluctant fingers loose. "Master Raganorn?" He called tentatively. There was no response. He slowly sat up, and saw that Silva and Schala were sprawled on the dusty ground not far away from him. There was no one else in sight. But he quickly forgot that concern, because what a sight it was!
They were, at most, two miles from a huge wall that reached thousands of feet into the air, and stretched as far as the eye could see, most likely far past the horizon. He could not see what was beyond it, and only a few sparse trees dotted the rest of the landscape. Now Silva stirred, and he quickly walked over to where she was laying and helped her get to her feet. "Where are we?" She asked quietly.
"I have no idea." Tempo responded.
"Ugh..." Schala's arms moved up to hold her head, but she made no other movement. Tempo and Silva walked over to her.
"What's with you?" Tempo asked, apparently not very concerned. "You're usually the first one up."
"Yeah, rub it in." She groaned. "Moogoo didn't hit you with that blue beam."
"Sorry. Are you all right?" Now he reached his hand down to help her up.
"I'm feeling pretty groggy, but I should be okay." She slowly got to her feet. "Hey Tempo, there's something I want to ask you."
"Sure thing. What is it?"
"I... Oh no." Schala sighed, and then they were all thrown high into the air as a dozen Viashino erupted from the sand.
"Humans, you are outside of your territory." The largest of them began. "However, since this is within the five mile neutral zone, we cannot harm you unless provoked."
"That's good." Tempo began to breathe a sigh of relief. "Because we don't want to fight."
"Glad to hear it." The big lizard said gruffly. "Now throw down your weapons."
"Uh, hold it." Tempo backed up apprehensively. "We have reason not to be too trustful of your kind. We won't strike first, but we'd like to keep our weapons, if it's all the same to you."
The lizards stared at them in amazement. "Uh chief, that statement makes me feel kind of provoked. Does it count?" One of the lesser lizards asked.
"Tempo." Schala whispered to him. He leaned closer to hear better. "They're going to go after us. You and Silva run ahead of me, and I'll be the bait. While they're tearing me up, nail 'em with everything you've got."
"What about you?" He asked, concerned.
"You saw what Kazin did to me, and I'm fine now. Get ready to go."
Meanwhile, the Viashino leader was holding up an electronic device. He seemed to be reading quickly. Then he put the machine away and looked up. "Yes, refusing to surrender arms counts as provocation. Massacre 'em boys!!" The giant lizards leaped forward, charging at the three humans. Tempo and Silva bolted away, but Schala pretended that she had forgotten how to run in her robes. She tripped over them, then fell in a cloud of dust. Instantly, the lizards were on her, and Tempo stopped running.
"Silva, launch another grenade!" Tempo drew out his mace.
"But, what'll happen to her?" Silva's finger hesitated on the trigger.
"Don't argue, just go!" Tempo shouted. Then he ran forward as fast as he could. He swung his mace into the ground, then stopped suddenly. The shockwave continued along the ground, heading for the lizards. Silva finally sighed and launched a grenade. The Ground Swell and the grenade hit at exactly the same time, and it appeared that all the lizards were consumed in the resulting explosion. However, when the dust cleared, one was still standing amid the many charred bodies, whispering hurriedly into a small box. Tempo raced toward him.
"Berreka, our border patrol has been wiped out by a small band of humans! Berreka, do you read me Berreka?! Awp!" He was cut off as Tempo's mace smashed into his neck, easily breaking it. The heavy lizard body fell to the ground with a dull thud. Some of the charred substance on the ground began to move, slowly reassembling.
"Did you hear that?" Schala's voice drifted up from the Nooze. "He said "Berreka," didn't he?"
"That's what I heard." Tempo sighed. Silva was staring, open mouthed, as Schala's body reformed out of the black mess.
"How... How did she...?" She pointed excitedly.
"I'll explain later." Tempo dismissed the concern. "Right now, I think we're in trouble." He turned back toward Schala as he heard the Nooze stop slushing. He was surprised to see her looking as though absolutely nothing had happened. "Wow. That stuff fixes your clothes too?"
Schala looked surprised, as though she had just realized it herself. "I guess so. I'm glad it does, because really, I'm in no shape to be viewed nude right now."
Tempo maintained a straight face, despite the fact that now he couldn't help wondering just what she would look like nude. "I imagine so, with no blood. What's up with you anyway?"
"I'd rather not talk about it yet." She turned away from him, then whirled around and looked him straight in the eye. "I'll do whatever it takes to win, or at least go on to fight another time. I'll always do whatever it takes."
"Yes... I'll remember that." Tempo said calmly. They stared at each other for a few seconds. Then, a faint whirring sound could be heard in the sky.
"Uh..." Silva began. "This really can't be good." In the time it took Tempo to turn and look, three large shapes appeared on the horizon and roared past them, then circled around again and came to a stop, hovering in the air.
"Wow, they're fast!" Tempo couldn't help but admire the sleek ships. Then he looked closer, and could clearly see Berreka manning the lead ship, munching on what looked to Tempo like a candy bar. "How did you get here Viashino?!" Tempo demanded.
"I should ask the same of you!" Berreka's voice came back clearly. "And stop calling us Viashino. That's just Moogoo's stupid nickname for my brother's forces."
Tempo paused. "Let's see... All right, what should I call you, and, your brother?"
"We call ourselves Komodaera, and Barada was my brother, you stupid human!"
"Uh oh." Tempo gulped, not moving.
"That's right, and I don't appreciate what you and the Lavoid beast did to him." They stood in silence for a few moments, then, "Well, aren't you going to run?" Berreka taunted him. Tempo didn't move. Twin lasers shot out of Berreka's ship. "Run, puny human!"
Tempo slowly turned around. "Uh, ladies, I have a suggestion..." He tensed. "Let's go! Let's go! Let's go!!" He broke into a sprint toward the walls of the city.
"You two stay in front of me!" Schala shouted. "I'll be the shield!" Behind them, the three Komodaera fighters roared to life again. Lasers impacted just behind them, and they were thrown into the air, to land hard amid a cloud of dust. They all scrambled back to their feet, and continued to run. Lasers continued to rain around them, but Berreka was still just playing with them, for now.
"We're getting close to the wall!!" Tempo shouted. The Komodaera fighters were circling around for another strafing run.
"How do we get over it?!" Schala called out to him.
"Either we try to find some new power of yours, or... ..that!" Tempo pointed excitedly. About fifty yards away, half concealed by a pile of junk, another ship sat on the ground, its main door open. It was a lighter color than the Komodaera fighters, and had two sets of wings instead of just one.
"I vote for that!" Schala shouted. They all renewed their efforts, and the next laser blast threw them inside the ship.
Tempo raced up to the front, and immediately began pounding on the control panels. "Quick! How do I turn this thing on?"
"How the hell should I know?!" Schala demanded as the sound of more laser fire came from outside.
Suddenly, there was a loud clicking behind them. Tempo turned around to find himself staring into the barrel of a very large gun. "What's the matter?" A scornful voice drifted to his ears. He didn't take his eyes off the gun. "Surprised a 'synth like me owns his own ship?" Now Tempo looked away from the gun, at the source of the voice. A guy looking to be about 16 stood, barely managing to hold the heavy weapon with both hands. His skin seemed to have a somewhat greenish tinge, and the backs of his hands were dark green. Scanning further, Tempo saw dark green splotches all over his arms.
"Hey man, I don't understand what you're talking about." Tempo raised his arms in the air.
"Yeah right, techie." Tempo found the barrel pressed up against his face.
"Techie?" His voice echoed inside the gun.
The guy sighed. "You're from Soultech aren't you?"
"Well, yeah. But I don't see what that has to do with-" Tempo was cut off as a laser blast impacted right on top of the ship. The guy looked up in surprise. "This situation." Tempo finished his sentence. "We're trying to get away from the Komodaera, and..."
"Komodaera?!" The guy looked surprised now. Another laser hit the ship. An angry expression appeared on his face. "Giant lizards or not, nobody messes with my Skyshroud Ranger!" He dropped the gun and jumped into the pilot's seat, quickly flipping several switches. The engines outside began to hum with power. The junk surrounding the ship blew away. The guy sighed. "Someday, I'm going to have to acquire the firepower to back that statement up."
Schala gave him a funny look from where she was standing. "You mean to tell me that you don't have any weapons on this ship?"
He looked up at her. "Does this look like a fighter? I've got some decent shields, and some really good engines! I'll lose these goons in about three seconds! Watch this..." He pushed a lever all the way forward, just as a jarring impact came from the back of the ship. Nothing happened.
"Watch what?" Schala demanded.
The guy groaned and allowed his head to fall forward, banging on the controls. "Ugh... Next time, remind me to turn on those decent shields of mine." The ship shook some more, then began to descend. He quickly sat back up. "Providing there is a next time. Hold on, because I think we're about to crash." The other three people leaned forward to get a better look out the front. They were drifting slowly forward, and barely cleared the giant wall. Now Tempo could see a huge city sprawling beyond the wall, as far as the eye could see. It was filled with thick buildings, each one many thousands of feet tall. There was a fair amount of space between them, although there didn't appear to be anything in the city identifiable as a road.
They were getting uncomfortably close to one of the taller buildings. "This is not good..." The guy grimaced. He yanked the controls hard to the right, but in its damaged state, the Skyshroud Ranger couldn't cooperate. He narrowed his eyes in the second before impact, then shut them when it happened. They hit the very corner of the building, and continued to move jarringly forward, the left side of the ship crashing through the wall. Glass from the shattered windows rained down on the ground below. Then, the left wings hit something substantially more solid inside the building, and the front end of the Ranger flipped around. Then it left the building, and fell to the ground, spinning wildly. Tempo, Schala, and Silva were thrown to the floor.
Berreka's voice came across a broken speaker inside the ship. "You got lucky clearing the wall Tempo. Next time, you're mine!"
"Ugh..." Tempo sat up, rubbing his head. "Great, just great."
The as yet unnamed pilot peered through the scratched canopy of his ship. "We have to get out of here."
"You see more of those fighters?" Schala asked.
He laughed. "No, they wouldn't dare come inside Lohkiarn. I just don't want to have to pay for that." He pointed up at the wide swathe of destruction the Skyshroud Ranger had made in the building. Then he pressed several buttons and waited expectedly. "Crud. The main engines are completely shot. This is going to cost me a bundle." He flicked one small switch and a slight whirring could be heard. The ship lifted about five feet off the ground, and began to move away from the damaged building. He turned back to face them again. "And since I got you all away from those freakin' lizards, you're gonna help me fix it!"
"Now hold on a minute..." Tempo started
"Oh, don't even start with me techie!" He held up his hand to silence Tempo's protest. "Or I'll just drop your soulfull ass right here, and let you take the rap for that damage."
"On second thought, maybe making a few repairs wouldn't be so bad." Tempo shrugged.
"Okay then. I guess it's time for the formal introductions." He didn't turn from looking out the canopy. "My name's Lionello, but you can call me Lion."
"I'm Tempo." He stepped forward. "And I am in Soultech, but there are some complications you're not aware of."
"Great. Complications." Lion said in an incredibly sarcastic tone of voice. "I can't wait to hear this."
"My name is Schala." She stepped forward now. "I believe that's all you need to know, for the moment."
"Damn straight." He replied. "As soon as my ship's fixed, you're all out of here. Now, mystery guest number three is-?"
"Oh, I'm Silva." She replied nervously.
"Okay, that's everyone. Now let's pick up the pace." Lion flicked another switch, and their speed increased from infuriatingly slow to just a snail's pace. Tempo turned to look around the ship, growing tired of Lion's attitude, but he did hear him grumble, "I can't believe I'm ferrying a techie around..."
"Urghh! For the time being, I don't own the skies..." - Setzer Gabianni
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