Tempo Trigger Chapter 14
Fight the Future
"Well." Lion calmly looked out the window. "Looks like I won't have to go back for them after all."
"What a fall!" Silva exclaimed. "Is he... ..dead?" She turned away from the cloud of dust rising around Tempo's still form.
"Could be." Lion shrugged indifferently. "But since he's a techie, I doubt it." Then, Lion's eyes bugged out as the mech landed between the Ranger and Tempo. "What the hell?! Why is a Cathodion B-15.osp after your friend?!" He whirled on Silva. "You guys are REALLY from 1995?"
"That's what I told you." She responded calmly, not really understanding his sudden excitement.
"Holy shit!" Lion banged his fist on the window. "He's THE Tempo?! Looks like I need to go save his ass." Lion quickly jumped outside. Silva still didn't know what his problem was, but she wasn't about to stop him from helping Tempo.
The mech was beginning to scoop Tempo up in its huge arms, when Lion shouted up at it. "Hey, I think you'd better put him down, right now!!"
The mech stopped and turned to face him. "Who are you to give me orders?" A voice drifted out. "Get out of here, you worthless 'synth!"
"Well, now you've done it." Lion began to grin. An eerie yellow light began to radiate out from him. "You've gone and made me mad." At the sight of the glow, the mech took up a defensive position. "I'm not just a common 'synth, I'm a prototype!"
"Liar!!" The mech pilot roared. "The only prototype not accounted for is..." His voice suddenly got much quieter. "Lionello?"
"In the flesh." Lion's grin broadened. "In all these years, you're actually the first one to ever realize who I am. Now, I certainly can't let you live with that knowledge." His glow brightened noticeably.
"Screw that!!" The pilot shouted. The Cathodion fired all its lasers at once, as well as its remaining missiles. Lion vanished in a huge burst of energy. But when the smoke cleared, he was unscathed, floating about fifteen feet in the air. "I-I'm warning you..." The pilot gulped nervously. "I'll notify Jaguarena."
"She'll never know what happened here." Lion responded icily. He stretched one finger out, and a huge blast of bright yellow energy sheared off one of the mech's arms.
"Wait! I was only following my orders! I'll do whatever you want!" The pilot stammered desperately.
Now a yellow glow radiated from Lion's eyes. "Too bad for you, all I want is for you to die." He stretched both arms out, and brought his palms together, with his fingers spread apart. "Aaaiieee-yaaahh!!!" A massive yellow explosion engulfed the Cathodion. When it vanished, all that remained was a pile of melted scrap. "Heh, heh, heh." He slowly floated back down to the ground. Then he walked over to where Tempo lay in the dirt. "Tempo? Hey man, can you hear me?"
"Uh... Is he okay?" Silva called from the ship, now definitely not sure what to make of Lion.
"He's breathing, but he's out cold." Lion responded. He noticed the bag full of parts Tempo had strapped on, and quickly picked them up and tossed them over to Silva. "Start unloading those. After an explosion like that, we probably have five minutes max until the Komodaera notice and come around to have a look."
"Five minutes?" Silva gulped. She picked up the parts and ran back inside. Now Lion walked over to where Schala was laying in the dirt.
"Well, looks like you weren't as lucky." He said dryly. There was no sign of breathing, and he couldn't feel a pulse.
"Says who?" Schala lifted her bag of parts out of the dirt, leaving her eyes closed. She could just imagine the expression on Lion's face. As she opened her eyes, her suspicions were confirmed. He was staring at her, his mouth working, but making no sound. "If we've only got five minutes, you better get to work."
"Uh... Uh, yeah." He picked up the parts and ran back inside. Schala slowly sat up and surveyed where they were. The giant set of stairs they had haphazardly descended stretched high into the air above them. At the top of that, huge buildings reached skyward almost as high as the eye could see.
"Big enough for a Weapon to play in." Schala smiled to herself. She noticed Tempo sprawled in the dirt and started to drag him over to the Ranger. She was right at the door when she noticed three shapes in the sky, rapidly approaching their location. "Lion, are you almost done?" She called inside.
"Not even close!" He responded rather calmly. "Why?"
"We're about to have company! Berreka's back!!" Schala finally hurled Tempo up into the ship, jumped in after him, and slammed the door shut.
Lion got up from where he was fiddling with circuits in the wall, and ran to the front of the ship for a second. He flicked a few switches, then went back to work. "Shields up this time." He smiled at Schala's curious glance. "That should buy me a few more minutes." He rapidly tore out broken parts and slammed new ones into place. "Communications are fixed. Fat lot of good that does us at the moment." He grumbled.
Berreka's voice could be heard now. "Well, you're back for more surprisingly soon. You won't escape this time!"
"That's what you think!" Lion shouted to the air. He picked up the wall panel and slammed it back into place, hiding the mess of wires that obviously still needed some work. He maintained a smile even as multiple laser blasts began slamming into his shields. "My engines are operational! Eat my exhaust, suckers!" He hopped into the pilot's seat and rammed his fist into a large lever. It went all the way forward with a grinding sound, and they were suddenly being hurled through the air at a blinding speed. "Damn. We're still real slow here." Lion said sadly.
"This is slow?" Schala asked, not believing it. "I don't think I want to see fast then."
"We're slowly getting up to maximum speed, which is just slightly faster than light..." He trailed off as one of the Komodaera fighters flew up next to them, close enough so that they could see his grinning face through the window. It was Berreka.
"Don't think you'll escape Habeeb that easily!!" He laughed. "You can't outrun us!" Then he slipped behind the Ranger, and began to fire.
"Those must be some powerful weapons they're packing. Our shields are decreasing rapidly." Lion reported.
"You really don't have any weapons on this ship to fight them with?" Schala still couldn't believe it.
"None." He shook his head in frustration.
"What about those powers you used earlier?" Silva asked him.
"Who's going to keep us from getting blown up while I'm charging up? You?" Lion almost laughed. "Sorry, but I gotta fly."
Schala thought for a moment, then she came close to smiling. "Where's that gun you were pointing at Tempo earlier?"
"It should still be sitting in the back there." He responded. "Why?"
Schala did smile now. "Got any rope?"
Magus peered ahead intently as the swirling colors of time warp faded. His eyes widened with surprise as four objects roared by not very far in front of them. "What was that?!" Ertai exclaimed.
"Looks like just more of those ships we've been seeing." Magus said, disappointed. "They keep getting faster as the years go by, but that's about the only difference I'm noticing."
"No..." Ertai frowned. "There was something special about that group. Follow them."
"I don't recall you being the one in charge of this operation."
"I also don't recall me NOT being in charge." Ertai asserted. "Just follow them at the highest possible speed without warping!" Magus grimaced, but pushed forward, and the engines roared to their maximum normal power.
Schala was having a blast, literally. She aimed the gun at Berreka's right wingman, and fired again. The Komodaera fighter slowed momentarily, then raced right back up. 'I can't believe this.' She thought to herself. She was flying through the air, a rope tied around her waist leading back into the Ranger. She was being jerked through the air so roughly it was very hard to aim, but she didn't care at the moment. 'I'm actually enjoying myself.'
It seemed pretty weird, and downright mean. All of her life, Schala had never had a mean streak, except when it came to Lavos. There had never been a reason to be vicious or unforgiving. But these lousy Komodaera were trying to kill them, for what seemed like the hundredth time. She lifted the gun up to take aim again, and noticed there was a knob on the back. 'Emergency power booster?' She read the label, not quite understanding.
When she figured it out, she laughed out loud. She turned the knob all the way up, and the red laser glow at the end became much brighter. "Choke on this, you damn reptiles!!" She shouted, and proceeded to literally spray them with huge blasts of laser fire. She managed to hit one of the engines on the left wingman's ship. It exploded, and he went spinning toward the ground below, totally out of control.
"Holy! Did you see that?" Ertai shouted.
"I sure did." Magus nodded quietly. "You know, that really could be almost anyone, but I'm starting to get a feeling..."
"What did I tell you?" Ertai elbowed him in the ribs. "Now, let's help them out. Where's that button for the lasers you said Dalton installed?"
"Right here." Magus pulled a lever, and a compartment in the controls popped open. A big red button was glowing inside.
"All right!" Ertai grinned. "Now that's what I'm talking about!"
Schala was practically deaf from the roaring of the gun, when it stopped. There was no more glow at the end of the barrel. She turned around to look at the knob. 'Out of power? Oh da-' Her inner curse was cut off as a blast from Berreka's ship hit her right in the stomach. It left a gaping hole, and she was almost blown apart. Schala began to pull herself back toward the ship. Even the Nooze couldn't put her back together if the pieces were hundreds of miles apart. At the speed they were going, that would be just what happened.
She chucked the gun inside, then chucked herself in after it just as another burst of fire from Berreka slammed into the shields. This one was enough to break through, and the floor right behind Schala erupted into a shower of sparks. She ran back up toward the front, lightly stepping over Tempo's still form along the way. "Shouldn't he be waking up pretty soon?" She asked Lion.
"Beats me." He shrugged. "That's not important now. I take it you used up the charge in the gun?"
"You might say that." Schala grinned.
"Well, you managed to take one of them down, but now there's another ship coming up behind us. We're still not close to maximum power. We can't get away, and our shields are at about twelve percent." He looked up at her. "I'm open to suggestions."
Schala quickly scanned the control panel, and her eyes came to rest on one small switch. "Scramjet booster?"
Lion shook his head. "No way. That's an emergency engine booster, but it's designed for the two engine model. With four engines, the effects are entirely unpredictable. Every ship of this type that's tried to use it has been destroyed."
Another blast from Berreka broke through the shields. "I'd rather we destroy ourselves than be destroyed by them!" Schala jammed her finger into the switch.
"No, don't!..." Lion trailed off as their world became a swirling mass of blue.
"All right, we're in range, and I've got a lock. Let's take them down!!" Ertai rammed his fist into the glowing button, and the laser turrets of the Epoch roared to life. The fighter they were following promptly vanished into a large fireball. They could clearly see the ship that was being pursued now. "Whoever was out there shooting earlier went back inside." Ertai stated the obvious.
"Worry about that later." Magus told him. "Right now, worry about destroying that..." He lost his train of thought as the ship suddenly vanished into a speck of blue light in front of them. In less than two seconds, it roared past them from behind, then abruptly vanished in a blue flash. "They just time warped!!" Magus shouted. "We're following them!"
Ertai nodded, but sent one more blast of laser fire at the remaining enemy fighter. He hit dead center, and the rear of the fighter erupted into flames. Then, his view blurred as Magus hit the time warp button, aiming for the spot where the other ship had disappeared.
"Ugh..." Lion sat up from where the sudden acceleration had thrown him to the floor. "Hey, are you guys all right?" Schala was already sitting up, and Silva was leaning against the wall, rubbing her head.
"Yeah, we're okay, but Tempo's still out of it." She reported, discouraged.
"Where the hell are we?" Lion stood up, holding onto the back of the pilot's seat for balance. Peering out the canopy, he at first only saw, dark, swirling clouds of mist. In a few moments, the mist partly cleared, and he saw a stone walkway leading away from where the Ranger was resting. "I'm going to go outside to see if I can get us airborne again. Let Tempo sleep off his landing here, and let'sd try to find out where we are."
Lion opened the door, and found the stone walkway leading directly up to it. He started walking down the walkway, and saw a circular platform in the distance. He couldn't see anything else, as the mist obscured it all. He walked up to the platform, and found an old fashioned fence about waist high running around it. There was a gate, and it made a creaking sound as he opened it. "Well, well. Now this is a surprise." Lion jumped back at the sound of an old man's voice coming out of the gloom. "I haven't had any visitors for a very long time. Welcome, to the end of time."
"I'm just not as bloodthirsty as Schala is." - Lucca
"Few people are." - Nadia
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