Tempo Trigger Chapter 13
Lion leaned back in the pilots seat, lazily peering out the window for any sign of something interesting. He was sure he had imagined what he thought he had seen in front of the Soultech building earlier. As he had told Tempo, it was mere wishful thinking. Silva was also sitting in a back seat, but she was fidgeting. "You don't need to be so nervous." Lion told her. "The only one I have a problem with is that techie."
"Why do you hate Soultech so much?" Silva was willing to latch on to just about any topic to break the silence.
"I don't believe I'll be going into that right now." Lion didn't turn from the window. "Why are you hanging with trouble like him?"
"I don't have much of a choice at the moment." Silva shrugged. "I know you don't believe it, but we just busted out of a castle in the middle ages, and there doesn't seem to be any way to get home."
"You're right, I don't believe it." He laughed a little. "But I do have a mild interest in the middle ages, so humor me. Which castle was it?"
"Uh... I don't know the name of the castle." She responded uneasily. "Just that it belonged to someone named Moogoo."
"Moogoo?..." Lion looked out the window thoughtfully. "That's uh..." He snapped his fingers. "Yeah! That's Habeeb's little brother! I don't believe for a second that he was in the middle ages though..."
"What the?..." Silva looked at him with an expression of disbelief. "Little brother?"
Then, there was a knocking on the side door. "Oh damn." Lion sighed and got up, then slid the door open. "Is there a problem sir?" Silva saw a uniformed man standing outside the door.
"This is an unregistered ship, son. I'm going to have to ask you to move it outside of the city limits."
"I'm sorry sir." Lion stepped back, and gestured to the spot on the wall where Tempo had been leaning. "But my ship is currently incapacitated."
"I'm quite able to tow your ship outside the city."
"Uh, thank you sir, but-"
"Or you may have to face quite a large zoning violation fine." The man finished.
Lion groaned. "All right, tow away." Then he closed the door.
"You can't just abandon them here!" Silva shouted.
"I'll come back later." Lion grimaced, hopping back into the pilot's seat. "But after those repairs, I'm nearly broke already. I don't have much of a choice."
"On what charge?" Tempo instantly demanded. The men in uniform laughed simultaneously.
"Son, you've been wanted for over 1,500 years, ever since Lord Nagar's time." The man in charge informed him.
"What the hell?" Tempo was dumbfounded. "Who originally wanted me?" From all he had seen already, what they were saying was certainly possible.
"I believe it was Nagar's son, Garin." He responded.
"The bastard!!" Tempo shouted.
"But anyway..." The man whipped out some sort of restraint device. Tempo couldn't really tell what it was supposed to be. "We're arresting you now by the authority of Soultech and Lord Habeeb."
"What're you talking about?" Tempo continued to yell. "I'm a soldier in Soultech!!"
"Not according to the records." The men all shook their heads.
"And who is this 'Lord Habeeb?'"
"Ah..." The men all turned and whispered among themselves for a moment before giving him an answer. "The description that might have the most significance to you is that he's Lord Moogoo's older brother."
"Moogoo?!" Tempo involuntarily spat. "You know what? You're not going to take me in."
"I don't think you're giving the orders." The man in charge frowned at him, then whipped out a device that was clearly a type of gun.
"Ground Swell!!" The shock wave of Tempo's abruptly stopped charge sent all the men sprawling to the pavement. The lead officer fired at him, but Tempo jumped into the air, sailing above it. Whatever type of projectile or laser was launched hit Schala right between the eyes, and he gasped, then slapped his forehead as he landed. She winked at him as the Nooze bubbled out of the wound, quickly sealing it up.
"How the hell do you do that?" Tempo smiled in astonishment. "That's all I'm asking."
"Explaining would reveal more than I want to." Schala grimaced. She noticed one of the men had dropped his weapon, and she quickly scooped up the gun. "Now, I think our priority should be getting ourselves out of here." The dust from the Ground Swell was beginning to clear, and several more shots were fired their direction.
"You got that right!" Tempo grabbed her hand, and began to pull her toward the best path of espcape he saw. Two of the uniformed men were running after them, but they weaved between the buildings as well as they could in the long straight stretches, and the footsteps died behind them before too long. Tempo really could not believe the size of these buildings. There were plenty of large cities in his own time, but these immense towers were at least three times the size of the tallest buildings in Locorn. Tempo finally tired out, and stopped to catch his breath. As far as he could tell, Schala wasn't breathing at all. "I think we've lost them." He said in between gasps.
"Yes, and I think we've also lost ourselves." Schala frowned.
"Huh?" Tempo looked up at her, too busy breathing to really pay attention.
"Do you know the way back to the Skyshroud Ranger from where we are now?" She asked condescendingly.
"Uh, no." Tempo realized as he looked around. "Oh well, I guess we'll just wing it and see what happens." He started running again.
"You sure shrugged that concern off quickly." Schala observed.
"It's best not to worry about stuff, unless it's really important." Tempo told her, then went back to gasping for breath.
"So I take it Rena is really important then?" She smiled thinly.
He stopped in his tracks, and she almost ran into him. "How did you find out..." He trailed off as two large shadows appeared above them. A second later, two huge mechanoids, each about 30 feet tall, descended to street level. They consisted of a heavily armored cockpit, with two thick legs supporting them while on the ground, and two arms holding some massive artillery. Missile pods protruded on top.
"Tempo, you cannot escape. Surrender immediately!" A voice was emitted from the nearer of the two mechs. Tempo cursed, then reluctantly put his hands into the air. Schala slowly slid up close to him.
"You doofus!" She whispered. "If you've been wanted for 1,500 years, they're sure not going to kill you now. Stand back." Schala clenched her fists.
"Why, what are you-?" Tempo was cut off as two bolts of lightning flew from Schala's hands, each one impacting dead center into a missile pod on a mech. There were two large explosions, and the mechs vanished into a wall of fire. Tempo's jaw dropped.
"Well, well." Schala smiled down at her hands, which were still glowing with energy. "Looks like I'm getting more powerful all the time."
Tempo was still staring at the wall of fire. So he quite clearly saw both mechs slowly walk out of it, completely unscathed. "But still not powerful enough." He turned and ran once again.
"Yeah..." Schala sighed, looking up. "Don't remind me." Then she ran as well. It appeared the pilots were giving their mechs time to cool down, because the robots did not begin chasing them right away. Tempo sprinted down the long space between buildings, then suddenly came to a stop at the end. "What's the matter?" Schala demanded.
"Nothing. I think we finally got lucky." Tempo pointed to a building across the way that was only three stories tall, although it was still very wide. It seemed highly out of place. "That's a museum. I can tell by the murals on the wall." He began to run toward it.
"What's a museum?" Schala asked as she caught up with him.
"Sheesh, you really are from another planet, aren't you?" Tempo gave her a funny look. "Museum: a place full of artifacts of the past. It's likely to have a fair amount of tourists, and we can hopefully vanish into a crowd of people." They remained silent as they ran around the side of the building, then stopped as they reached the front. There was no one outside, and the windows were dark. There was a small sign hanging on the door. There were a few letters that Tempo couldn't read, but most of the words were ordinary. "Closed for reorganization? No way!" Tempo shouted. "I don't have time for this! Ah-rekka!!"
Schala flinched involuntarily as the metal and glass door burst inward in a shower of shrapnel. "Subtle." She smiled as she viewed the jagged remains hanging off the entrance. "Yeah, they're never going to know we're in here now."
"Can it." Tempo waved that concern aside. "I'm thinking of something else."
"What's that?" She asked in a snide tone. She was starting to enjoy giving him a hard time.
"I said I was thinking of it. I didn't say I had it yet." Tempo wandered off into the darkness. There was enough dim light to see where they were going, so they didn't bump into anything. Tempo found a flight of stairs leading to the second story and quickly went up. "Man, I'm not seeing any useful weapons."
"At this point, I'd settle for a way to get back to the Skyshroud Ranger." Schala sighed, leaning up against one of the larger items. She cried out in surprise as it tipped over with a crash.
"Well, what have you found there?" Tempo peered as he leaned over to help her up.
"I don't know. I've never seen anything like it." Schala stared at the odd device.
Tempo straightened it up. "I sure have. This is a motorcycle. A big, powerful one at that." She looked at it with a curious expression, so he explained some more. "You just hop on the seat here, jam that throttle as high as it will go, and go riding off at insanely high speeds." Then he sighed. "Yeah, but this thing is 1,500 years old. There's no chance it would work." Suddenly, there was a loud crash downstairs, and the light of searchlights could be seen. "They know we're in here." He groaned.
"Tempo?" Schala picked a sign up off the floor. "You may want to have a look at this."
Tempo picked it up, and his eyes began to widen as he read it. "Due to extreme visitor curiosity, this ancient vehicle is maintained in working order. Our gold status contributors (those who donate over $100,000 annually) may ride it at any time. Just ask the curator for permission." He grinned widely now. "If I didn't know better, I'd say this thing works."
There was a loud clanking, and the top of a mech appeared in the stairwell, floodlights glaring right at them. "I'd say it's our only option right now." Schala held it up.
"Hop on behind me." Tempo patted the seat as he jumped on. The mech was almost at the top of the stairs now, and its weapons were very close to having clear room to fire. Tempo wanted to believe Schala's theory that it wouldn't kill him, but it didn't hurt to be cautious. Schala complied, and almost jumped back off at the loud noise which resulted when Tempo started the engine. The mech was at the top of the stairs now, hunched over so it wouldn't break through the ceiling. Tempo glared at it fiercely. "Hang on!!" He shouted. Any other words he yelled were lost as the motorcycle roared to life.
The mech tried to hunker down lower, but Tempo raced underneath its legs, and on down the stairs. His teeth chattered noisily as the stairs bounced them both around badly. The mech was already turning around, and Tempo speeded up as best he could while being careful not to run into the exhibits. In a matter of seconds, he was bursting out the door. He swore as the second mech appeared right in front of him. He cornered hard, and gunned the motor.
The bike slid out from under him, and they were tossed to the pavement. "Shit!" Tempo cursed more at the sudden pain that coursed through him than their foiled getaway. "Back on, now!!" He shouted to Schala. He barely checked to see that Schala was on before he popped a wheely and roared away down the street. He could feel the thundering steps of the mech behind him, but the bike wouldn't go any faster. Suddenly, a blast from one of the robot's weapons impacted right in front of him. Rather then swerve, he launched off the edge of the newly created crater, and jumped over the rest of impact zone. Now they were on a slight downhill stretch, and the bike was picking up a little speed.
The mech was still running after them. Schala was very nervous at the high speed, but she realized she had traveled much faster than this with Violen. Shuddering anyway, she quickly turned herself around so she was facing backward. "What are you doing?!" Tempo shouted. She didn't answer. Instead, she pulled out the gun she had collected earlier and began firing as rapidly as possible at the main canopy of the mech's cockpit. It continued to run after them for a little ways, but then staggered and crumpled in a tumbling heap. "I see." Tempo smiled. "Good thinking."
Then, the other mech that they had ditched in the museum could be seen charging after them, slowly catching up. "I wonder why they're not flying after us..." Tempo frowned at the sky.
"I think it's what I was saying earlier." Schala shouted up at him over the wind and the roar of the motor. "They probably have orders to bring you in alive. They're thinking that if they try to land right near you, you'll try a sudden change of direction, maybe riding under them. They might roast you with whatever it is that propels them that way. This is a much safer method of pursuit." Tempo mulled that over for a while.
The mech behind them was firing occassionally, but still seemed too far away to really get into it. "Schala?" Tempo asked, barely audible over the wind.
"What is it?" She responded, clutching the gun tightly in her hands.
"Are you having a strong sense of deja vu right now?" He maintained a steady grip on the handlebars, not turning to face her.
Schala paused for a good while. "...Yes." She finally responded. Then, the downhill stretch suddenly became very steep. They could see the road sloping down a long way before them, and apparently the end of the city beyond that. This part curiously had no wall. They could see a long sandy stretch outside the city limits. Sitting just at the start of that was a small speck.
"What is that?" Tempo pointed. Schala craned her neck to look.
"I can't tell yet." She shook her head. Then, with no warning, the road suddenly dropped away beneath them. They fell about twenty feet, landing on the rear wheel only. Tempo was afraid it would explode, but it held, and the bike roared on. Shortly, the path did that again, and again the bike dropped like a stone, but managed to keep going. "We're on some kind of giant stairway!" Schala gasped.
"I know!!" Tempo shouted, then held on for dear life as they dropped another time. They landed at an angle this time, and Tempo had to struggle to keep the bike from tipping over. "But we can hardly go back! We just have to keep going down!" After the next drop, Tempo yelled excitedly. "That speck! That's the Ranger!!" Schala looked closely, and saw that he was right. They were a lot closer to it now.
Their relief quickly vanished as the mech landed with a thud just in front of them. A giant arm swooped down to grab them. Tempo popped the wheel up at the last second, and the bike actually began to race up its arm. "Hold on!!" He shouted, mainly to himself. The bike launched off the missile pod on the mech's shoulder, sending them high into the air. Much too high. Their momentum caused them to miss the next stair, and almost miss the one after that. They fell close to forty feet.
The rear wheel exploded immediately from the force of the impact when they touched down. That small blast launched them off the edge of the stair. There was no hope of landing upright this time. Tempo jumped off the bike as he neared the ground, and tried to use a bit of soul power to keep from being killed by the impact. Despite that, he was still knocked out. Schala observed that they were off the stairway now, and only a few dozen yards from the Ranger. She smiled just before gravity took hold and smashed every bone in her body.
"You start worryin' and there's no stoppin' it! Things just start fallin' apart and get worse and worse." - Cid Highwind
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