Tempo Trigger Chapter 36

Ertai's Training: Fighting the Guantlet

By Nanaki

1825 A.D.

Ertai glared at the back of Billy's head as he sat, eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Billy was seated at his desk across the room, and thanks to him, Ertai's body was one giant bruise, with plenty of scars thrown in for good measure. 'I hate you.' He thought at the silver hair that covered Billy's head. 'I hate you I hate you I hate you.' Ertai was hard pressed to resist the urge to flick a spoonful of oatmeal at that unsuspecting head.

"I'm sure you do." Billy said, voice devoid of emotion. "Instead of just telling you what to do and letting you refuse to do it, I make you do what you're supposed to."

Ertai paused to scoop up another bite with his spoon, then paused to consider that. He had always been under the opinion that no one could truly make someone do anything. Oh sure, you could provide a lot of incentive to go one way or the other, but there were always options. That is, unless mind control was involved, as had apparently been the case with Lavos, Zeal, and Dalton. But with Billy, there was only one option if you didn't want to do things his way. And that option was to die.

He supposed that he might try running away too, but for him, that was no option at all. He had to pay Billy back, and he didn't want to return to Magus having failed. From what little of his life Magus had told Ertai, he guessed that the mage had been through much worse than this.

Ertai came out of his momentary trance to find his hands poised to fling the now lukewarm oatmeal at Billy. His master still wasn't facing him, but... 'I don't think you want to do that.' Billy's slightly amused voice entered Ertai's head.

'Think again.' Ertai smiled as he let the glop of oatmeal fly. Just before it connected with Billy's head, the teacher was surrounded by a blazing wall of fire, and the tasteless mush instantly vaporised. Before Ertai had time to blink, Billy had backflipped out of his chair, and his booted foot connected with Ertai's jaw. Ertai went flying backward, but he used the momentum to get his hands on the floor, bringing his feet up in a wide arc. Billy had expected him to just hit the floor and stay there for a moment, so the kicking uppercut caught him by surprise. He went flying upward, his head smashing through the ceiling.

Ertai sprang back upright off his hands, grabbed Billy's ankles, and yanked him back out of the ceiling. He then slammed his master's head into the floor with what would surely have been a fatal blow, if not for the tremendous amount of chi Billy was circulating through his bones and muscles, anticipating just such an occurance. Still, it disoriented him for a moment, and Ertai used that moment to hurl his teacher through the wall, into the arena.

Ertai raced through the hole scarcely a second later, then realized what a stupid move that had been, as his view was obscured by dust. He glanced about quickly, but didn't see Billy anywhere. Then, he felt a tremendous blow land on his back, and realized his master must have been hovering above him. The blows continued to slam into his back, driving him into the floor. Ertai belatedly got his own chi flowing, but he could feel that several vertebrae had snapped. He cast Cure 2 on himself, and found the strength to push himself out of the crater that had formed around him, even before the healing light faded.

He saw the business end of a roundhouse kick pass a few millimeters under his nose, just a split second after he sprang into the air. He knew Billy would be following him into the air in another split second, so he prepared a surprise. Ertai put his right arm forward, the palm of his right hand perpendicular to the arm. By the time Ertai started to shout, Billy knew he was flying forward too fast to get away in time. "Small Star Attack!" Ertai practically frothed at the mouth, and the mega-condensed ball of chi rocketed into Billy's chest.

Ertai was thrown backward by the force of the blast that engulfed his master. He slowly drifted down to the ground as the explosion dissipated. He was momentarily struck dumb with amazement. He had never had anything close to resembling the upper hand before. He wasn't sure what attack would be best now. 'Well don't just stand there!' The logical part of his brain screamed to the dumb kid that was standing there, mouth agape. 'Do something! Anything is better than-'

His thought was cut off as a flying fist rushed out of the smoke, smashing into his face. He went flying backward, racing toward the thick stone wall behind him, head first. However, just before he hit the wall, he teleported. Billy had barely begun to turn when Ertai slammed into his back, hurling them both to the floor. Even as he grimaced in pain, Billy smiled. The boy's teleportations were getting more precise all the time. He couldn't have phased in more than a few feet behind his master. Billy kicked backwards from the ground, and Ertai went flying up toward the ceiling. His back smacked into it, and he fell back down. Billy sprang to his feet, and timed a roundhouse kick to connect with Ertai's jaw.

Except... he once again found his foot passing a few inches below the boy's face. Even before he could glance up to see what had happened, he felt the chi backwash flow over him, and knew what Ertai had done. His student had used his chi to stop his descent. That was actually more difficult than hovering. Billy was surprised again. He aimed a slightly higher kick, but Ertai cut off his chi flow, and dropped to the ground. He rushed at his master, fists flying. The two mixed it up toe to toe, each trying to use their chi to increase their reaction time faster than the other. First, they were landing several blows a second, then, dozens. Finally, Billy sacrificed a bit of his chi defense for greater speed. He feinted high, then landed a gut punch as Ertai moved his arms to block high.

Ertai doubled over, but as Billy moved in for a throw, Ertai slammed his head up into Billy's jaw. Even with all the chi flowing through his body, and toughening it, Billy felt some teeth loosen, and there was a ringing in his ears. Ertai grinned, then landed a shot to the throat that just had to hurt, chi or no. Billy staggered back, and Ertai used the increasing distance to bring his hands together. He kept his two outward fingers curled in, but his index and middle fingers pointed as his master. "Raijingeki!!" Eight lightning bolts flowed from his hands, then combined into one wavy blue electrical beam. Billy got his own hands forward to block just in time.

"Kamikazehameha!" What seemed to be a miniaturized tornado funnel rushed at Ertai, bit of holy energy swirling along with it. Ertai stretched all his fingers out now, and the lightning bolts split apart again, entangling the wind before it could reach him. He began to grin, until he sensed a presence behind him. But that couldn't be possible! Billy's chi attack was still coming from... where he had been, a moment ago, Ertai cursed as Billy's hand clamped over his mouth, preventing any verbal incantations. Then, Ertai felt his head being twisted around. He he no choice but to twist around with it, or face a broken neck. As he whirled, Billy's diversionary attack proved to be not so diversionary after all, as the pain his back registered was almost blinding.

However, through all the violence, Ertai had maintained the Raijingeki, and now the lightning flowed into Billy with no resistance. When the inevitable punch connected with Ertai's jaw, his master's arm was trembling so much, it didn't have near the force he'd intended. Finally, Billy grabbed Ertai by the shoulders, so the electricity flowed into him as well.

Then, Billy finally began to get a bit worried. Nothing at all was happening to Ertai, except that a creepy grin was beginning to appear on his face. Billy broke through the pain and forced his eyes to glaze over. Once he finally got a good look at the magical waves around him, he realized... "No!!" He shouted, and hurled himself away from Ertai, trying to put as much distance between them as possible.

"Oh yes!" Ertai shouted, then held his hands, still spurting lightning, up to the sky. "Ultima!!" He then finally cut off the Raijingeki and held his hands over his ears. Even if the spell didn't directly hurt him, it was still deafening. The opposite wall of the arena blew outward, and part of the ceiling vanished into the huge blue explosion as well. Ertai started to sag, relieved, until he sensed someone behind him again. "How-?!" He began to demand, whirling around, until a booted foot landed in his stomach, hurling him into the air. Then, two fists came down at the base of his spine, slamming him into the floor, then on through it, while large cracks radiated out from the point of impact.

"I'm good." Billy said by way of explanation. Ertai kicked up from his crater, striking Billy in the groin. He jumped up as quick as he could, into an offensive fighting stance. Which turned out to not be the best idea ever, as Billy landed a punch square in his stomach. However, Billy had assumed this would end it, and left himself pretty open. Ertai opened his mouth as if to suck in some air, then immediately planted his own fist in Billy's stomach. Billy grunted, then slammed his left hand into Ertai's side. Having no way to defend now, Ertai was left to put his own left hand anywhere he wanted. He punched Billy's sternum with all his might, and immediately began to channel a fireball down both arms. Billy did the same.

The two locked eyes for a second, then Ertai ducked down, nailing Billy in the legs with a sweeping kick. He immediately jumped up into the air, above any possible retaliatory kicks, and let his fireballs fly. He could plainly see them connect, and he felt Billy's own fireballs pass just over his head as he descended, singing the tips of his hair. He stood, looking smug, until he noticed the shadows on the walls quickly changing size and shape. He turned around just in time to see Billy's fireballs impact on his chest, then explode around him.

He hadn't had any defense up for that, and he collapsed, finally allowing himself to breathe heavily. About ten feet away, he heard Billy similarly gasping. Finally, his master groaned and stood up. "Well, kid. For the first time, I need a break. Take five." With that, he walked out of the arena.

Ertai just stared at what was left of the ceiling. 'I used every trick in the book, and barely broke even...' Then, he wearily got to his feet as well. 'Looks like I'd better get some new books...'


"We'll see how much power you have!!" - K.A.I.N., Tenchi Muyo in Love


Chapter 37

Chrono Trigger Fanfic