Tempo Trigger Chapter 25
Tempo grunted as the gate spit him out, throwing him to his knees. He looked up, and saw a vast expanse of dust stretching to the horizon in front of him. He turned around, and saw... ..a vast expanse of dust stretching to- "What the...?" He turned to Lion, who had landed a few yards away from him. "Where the hell is the city?"
Lion stood up, and pointed to the northeast. "That way... a long way."
Tempo squinted into the distance, trying to see anything. "Are you sure?"
"Trust me, when there's only one human city on the planet, you always know where it is." Lion looked at the arm that was pointing, and brushed the dust off of it.
"Only one human city?" Silva, asked surprised. She turned to brush the dirt off the seat of her pants. "What happened to all the others?"
"They were all destroyed during Armageddon." Lion folded his arms, and continued looking north.
"Wait a minute." Schala said, groaning as she stood up. "Isn't Armageddon the end of the world?"
Lion nodded. "True, the planet itself wasn't destroyed, but the surface was completely decimated."
Tempo frowned, and looked at the ground. "Completely decimated..." Then he looked up at Schala. "I wonder what could cause that."
Schala clenched her fist. "The Lavoid did it, I'm sure. His father completely wrecked the surface of my planet. It stands to reason that his offspring would be able to do the same thing."
Tempo turned toward her now. "This happened to your planet too?"
"Yes, although a reliable source gave me the impression that it would eventually recover."
"Yes... We're still in the process of recovering." Lion said.
"But... If everything was destroyed, where did you come from?" Silva asked.
Lion smiled. "Actually, twenty four humans survived the disaster. All life on the planet would have ended then if it wasn't for human technology. As it was, and still is today, we can only scrounge up the resources to keep Lohkiarn going. Someday, when the planet has recovered, other human cities will spring up. But for now, this is it, and with the Komodaera running amok, I'm not sure we could handle more anyway."
"Where did the current crop of Komodaera come from then, after Armageddon?" Tempo asked.
"Let's get moving." Lion nodded to the northeast. "We'll talk on the way."
"Why are you being so helpful all of a sudden?" Schala walked up to him.
He shrugged. "I guess I'm in my element. Besides, the sooner I can get you guys on your way, the sooner things can get back to normal for me. Getting back to your question Tempo, from all the evidence we have, all the populations of Komodaera that were living on the planet at the time of Armageddon were destroyed along with everything else. This new batch showed up after several human generations had passed, and resumed their ancient war against us. For some reason though, they'll never venture within Lohkiarn, no matter what." The others couldn't think of any more questions at the moment, so they walked on in silence.
Several hours later, it was a different story. "Can we take a break?" Silva asked, half polite, half complaining. "It's really hot out here."
Tempo immediately stopped walking. "Yeah, I'm still beat from the fight too."
Lion and Schala came to a halt. "Very well, if you must."
Schala sat down next to the other two. "Where are you getting all of this endurance?" She asked Lion. "If my body was alive, I'd be just as tired as these two."
Lion smiled, and stretched his arms out. "What, you think this pigmentation is for decorative purposes only?"
"Huh?" He enjoyed the confused expression on all three of their faces.
"The word "'synth" is short for Photosynthesizer." He laughed as looks of comprehension appeared.
"You mean...?" Tempo drifted off, unsure of exactly how to phrase it.
"That's right. While you've all been sweating and complaining, I've been snacking on sunlight."
"Hey!" Silva scolded him as an idea hit her. "Why don't you just float all of us over to the city? I saw you float yourself before."
"Well, I could..." Lion seemed to consider it. "But it's better if I don't. I don't want to attract the Komodaera's attention, and anyway, the more power I charge up, the better."
"You really think they'd notice just four people?" Tempo sounded annoyed.
"Maybe they wouldn't detect us just by sight, but they have devices that can pick up on 'synth power. If I use my power, it'd be like a homing beacon for them." He stood there for a second. "Aren't you guys ready to go yet?"
"No." Tempo laid down to prove it. "Lion, do you have any idea why someone would want all of us to come back to this era?"
Lion turned to Silva. "Didn't you say that you had fought with Moogoo?"
"Well, the Moogoo connection is the only thing I can think of. I know he's been in this era before, and if he's here now, he'd probably try to get you to come have a rematch with him."
Tempo sat up again. "Moogoo's been here? Why? How? I remember those guys who tried to arrest me said that he was "Lord Habeeb's" younger brother."
"I don't know how he got here, but Habeeb lives in this time, so that may have something to do with it."
"Tell us about Habeeb... please." Schala added.
Lion scratched his chin. "Well... Habeeb is the greatest Soultech soldier this time has ever seen. Starting at age twenty three, he rose up quickly through the ranks until he became their top general. But starting at age thirty, he'd disappear for months at a time, with no explanation for where he had been. The only thing that signaled these departures is that his little brother Moogoo always showed up right before. He disappeared for the last time about three years ago, and no one has seen him since."
Tempo snapped his fingers. "Didn't Raganorn say that Moogoo first showed up in his time about three years back?"
Schala nodded. "It looks like the best thing we could do here would be to find Habeeb, if he's even here."
"Where would be the best place to start searching for him?" Tempo asked Lion.
"That would have to be the Soultech building. He may not even have gone anywhere. They may have just kept his whereabouts a secret this whole time. I don't relish the thought of going there..."
"You ever going to tell us WHY you hate Soultech?" Tempo asked.
"Not unless something extraordinary happens." Lion smiled a little. "Come on, let's go already." Suddenly, the ground began to rumble. "Uh oh..." Lion grimaced. "Jump!!" He shouted, and quickly began hovering in the air. Next, the dirt burst upward, and two huge mechs rushed out of the ground. Tempo, Silva, and Schala were sent flying. The mechs looked similar to the robots Tempo and Schala had run from before, but these were over fifty feet tall, and looked to be much more heavily armored. "How did they track us?!" Lion cursed to himself, before shouting down at Tempo. "We're in deep shit! These are Gladiator C-23.zecs! They're specially designed to resist Soultech, magic, and especially 'synth powers!" Tempo began to back away from them. "They can also fly almost as fast as Komodaera ships, so don't even think about running away!"
The nearer of the two Gladiators whirred, then trained its largest missile launcher on Tempo. "Attention! You are all under arrest. Throw down your weapons and get your hands in the air!"
Tempo drew out his mace, then looked at it for a minute. "No soultech huh? Well then... Let's get physical!!" He rushed at the Gladiator. "Ah-rekka..."
"Damn man, you're crazy!" Lion observed, but flew down low to see what he could do as well. Tempo was furiously smashing his mace into the robot's leg, but only making small dents in it. The robot suddenly kick out, and sent both Tempo and Lion flying backwards, to land in a heap in the dust.
Schala quickly leaned down next to Lion. "How much power can it absorb?"
"Huh?" He rubbed his head. "More than we've got."
"I'm not so sure..." She drifted off, looking at Tempo. "Tempo, pump out everything you've got at that thing! Once you get started, Lion and I will add our power!"
Tempo stood up. "But...!"
"You won't die!" She reassured him. 'I refuse to believe it could happen like that...'
"All right..." He reluctantly brought his arms up across his chest, and green fire surrounded him. He looked up at the Gladiators, which seemed to be momentarily at a loss as to how to handle the situation. "Get a load of this!!" He stretched both of his arms out, and a blazing green beam of energy slammed into the nearer mech. Electricity crackled all over its surface, and it began to absorb the power. Tempo gritted his teeth, and his output doubled. The mech staggered back. The other Gladiator began aiming its missiles at them.
"Now!!" Schala shouted. She forced the largest beam of holy energy she could pump out to fly from her hands, and Lion added his own solar powered blast. The electricity on the skin of the mech arced outward, striking the other Gladiator. The one taking the brunt of the blast sank to its knees, and stopped moving.
"Hey, she was right!" Lion turned to Schala and smiled. "C'mon Tempo! With your energy occupying the other one, I can blow that sucker apart!"
"All right!" Tempo, now much more enthused, put his hands together and launched an even bigger blast at the second Gladiator. It staggered back, trying to get a missile launched, to no avail. Lion observed excatly where Tempo's energy was striking and aimed carefully. This time, the solar blast vibrated with its sheer power, and rushed into the Gladiator, where it proceeded to blow the mech apart. The shockwave from the explosion ripped into the first mech, and threw all the humans back. Tempo allowed the fire surrounding him to die away. "Just how wussy are the Soultech guys in this time anyway? I mean, if that's all it takes to overload one of those things..."
"It was my power, not yours." Lion stated it as a fact.
"Oh yeah?" Tempo stood up. "Let's see you take me out, tough guy!"
"Perhaps later." Lion smiled. "For now, let's just get to the Soultech building."
Nine hours later, Tempo finally found himself recognizing some of the scenery in Lohkiarn. His feet were killing him. "Man, I'm going to sleep well tonight."
"If we can find a place to sleep." Lion said calmly. "We better hurry now though. It's getting dark, and the Soultech building will close pretty soon."
Tempo could see the huge building sticking up above the others. "We're almost there. Chill. Where are we going to go once we're inside anyway?"
They rounded the corner, and were coming up on the main entrance. "Don't worry. I know what to do. If there's any indication on where Habeeb is in there, I'll..." He stopped in his tracks.
"You'll what?" Tempo stopped as well, and gave him a funny look. Lion was staring in open mouthed awe at something. Tempo followed his line of sight, and saw a brown haired girl walk in the main doors of the building. He waved a hand in front of Lion's eyes, getting no response. "Hey man, are you all right?"
"Tess..." Lion whispered. It almost seemed that he was afraid to say the name. "Tess...!" He immediately began walking forward at a rapid pace, reaching a hand out to the doors. Then, he broke into a run. "TEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSS!!!!!"
"Crap!!" Tempo started to follow him, but Lion was quickly gaining distance on him. "C'mon ladies, I think the plant man just broke his brain!" They ran inside, and saw dozens of Soultech employees looking at the entrance to the stairway in bewilderment. Tempo charged up the stairs after him. He could hear Lion yelling up the stairs. He noticed Silva was falling behind on the uphill run, but Schala was keeping up with him just fine. He pressed on, up the many flights.
At about the fiftieth floor, he decided he'd had enough. He didn't know how Lion had gotten the energy to go charging up here. "All right, hold on Schala."
"What?" She was confused, but quickly complied.
Tempo quickly grabbed hold of the railing, and shouted. "Negative Gravity!!" As the effect gained a hold on his body, he used the railing to aim them into the open space between the flights of stairs, and they quickly "fell" up to the top of the building. Tempo cancelled the skill right before they smashed their heads into the ceiling, and grabbed onto the railing there. He heard Lion shouting, followed by the sounds of weapons firing. "Crap!!" Tempo hurled Schala over the railing, then scrambled over it himself. They ran down the hallway that opened up before them. Lion was pushing with all his might against three guards dressed in blue jumpsuits, and was almost breaking through in his fanatical frenzy.
"Let me through!!! Now! I swear, I'll..." His voice choked off as he grew too angry to speak. Instead, a bright yellow glow began to surround him.
Tempo ran up, and put a hand on his shoulder. "Lion, no!!"
"You dare to-?!" Lion didn't finish his sentence, but instead dealt Tempo a backhand punch that sent him sprawling to the ground. Suddenly, a new voice entered the picture.
"Everyone, stop, please!!" At the sound of the voice, Lion's glow disappeared. The three guards stood down slightly, and stepped apart enough for Tempo to make out the brown haired girl he had seen going in the doors down below. The girl gasped. "Lionel?"
"Tess..." Lion stretched a hand out, tears in his eyes. "Is this... Can this be real...?"
She nodded slightly, smiling, but looking like she was beginning to cry as well. "Yes. It's me." Lion tentatively stepped forward, as if she were an illusion that might disappear. Then he covered the remaining distance between them with blinding speed, and latched his arms around her so tightly Tempo wondered how she could breathe. "Oh Lionel..." She managed to choke out between sobs. "They told me... They told me you were dead..."
He pulled back enough to look her in the eyes. "They told me that you were going to die..." He immediately hugged her to him again. "Don't ever leave me again! Don't ever leave my sight!"
"I won't! I won't!" She choked out happily, crying into his shoulder. Lion tenderly ran his fingers through her hair, as if checking to make sure that it, too, was real. Tempo felt a lump in his throat, and found himself missing Rena. She was the only one he had ever felt that intensely about. He managed to tear his eyes away from the unfolding drama long enough to steal a glance at Schala, and saw that she wore exactly the same expression that he must have. The three guards looked absolutely bewildered.
Lion turned back toward them, the object of his affection still tightly wrapped in his arms. He was grinning broadly now. "Come in guys. Sorry about just now, Tempo."
His special lady peeled herself away from him, but maintained a death grip around his waist. "Shut the door, and guard it with your life." She addressed the guards.
"There's... There's so much I need to know." Lion told her.
"Lionel..." Tears reappeared in her eyes, but they weren't happy this time. "I can't. Not yet... This is too much."
"Uh..." Tempo ventured to speak up. "There's quite a bit we could stand to know too, apparently."
"Of course." Lion smiled at him. He pulled Tess around for another long embrace. "Of course... Just give me a few more minutes, okay?"
"Okay..." Tempo whispered. As he watched them, he suddenly felt empty inside. Almost without thinking, he put his arm around Schala's shoulders. She put her arm around his waist. And they waited.
"It's... It's not a dream!" - Yusaku Godai
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