Tempo Trigger Chapter 8
"All right cadets! This is a standard race. One lap around the track. Winner is done for the day, loser gets to clean out the locker room!" The Soultech commander shouted. Tempo tensed on the track, ready to go. There had been seven other racers, but six were irrelevant. Garin was also tense beside him. "Go!" The commander had shouted. Tempo took off at his fastest sprint, Garin just behind him. He slowed a little rounding the corner, and Garin surged ahead. On the rear straight stretch, he caught up again.
From the opposite side of the track, he could hear Rena cheering him on. No, he hated to realize that she was cheering them both on. Why she didn't hate Garin like he did, he could never tell, but she didn't. Garin gained a substantial lead as they rounded the back corner. On the final straight, Tempo poured on the speed. About ten yards away from the finish, he caught up. Suddenly, Garin varied his stride a little bit. Tempo had never been sure exactly what happened, but he lost his footing, and sprawled into the pavement. He had numerous bad abrasions, he looked terrible, Garin had won... ..and he had to clean out the locker room.
"Damn that bastard." Tempo said quietly as he sat up from the blankets on the ground in a tent in Merido. It was just beginning to get light outside. Leopold and Schala were sleeping relatively peacefully. At least, Leopold was. It was hard to tell with Schala. She never moved, or snored, or gave any indication that she was alive. He wondered why he knew that. Did he stay awake watching her sometime or something? He didn't remember. He had to admit to himself, Schala was attractive, but deep down, it just seemed that there was something wrong with her. Fundamentally wrong. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but he got the feeling that she was a deeply disturbed person. Then again, she claimed to be from another planet. Who knew what was going on with her?
They had gotten back roughly twenty four hours after leaving Barada's fortress. It had been more southeast of Merido than straight south, which was probably why the Soul Knights had been unable to find it. Leopold had been fast asleep, and they hadn't woken him up. Tempo yawned. Actually, it had probably only been a few hours since they had got back. He crawled back under the blankets again.
He must have fallen asleep quickly, because the next thing he knew, the sun was almost up, and Leopold was shaking him awake. "Hey, glad to see you're alive! When did you two get back?"
"Very late last night. You were asleep, and we didn't wake you up. How's the wrist?"
"Still broken." Leopold grimaced. "But that's not important. How did it go?"
"Well, we failed to get the Soul Ring when Kazin showed up and took it for Moogoo."
"Aw, Jeez." Leopold turned his head away, not quite believing it yet.
"But we did kill Barada."
"No way!" Leopold started smiling now.
"I'm serious. I fought him to almost a standstill, and Schala finished him off."
"You fought him to a standstill by yourself?" He found it a little hard to believe.
"Well, not really. He knocked Schala out early on. We rumbled for a while, and he was about to gain the upper hand, until Schala knifed him in the neck."
"So she knows what she's doing with that dagger?"
"Definitely." Tempo grinned. "I wouldn't want to piss her off. Anyway, Barada's gone, but I wouldn't count out the Viashino threat. We were able to fight him one on one because he sent all the others to Moogoo's castle, wherever that is."
"Well, if Barada's taken care of, and Kazin is bringing the Soul Ring to Moogoo," Leopold grimaced, "then we're done here. We should go after Master Raganorn."
"How long will it take to get to Kamaka from here? I remember he said that's where he was going."
"About two days, maybe more. He won't still be there though."
"Do we have any better clues?"
"Unfortunately, no. Let's get going then."
The following two days of travel were extremely uneventful. So much, in fact, that Tempo began to grow uneasy at the total lack of enemy activity. "I don't get why they're not at least sending minor annoyances to slow us down." Tempo remarked to Leopold as they were once again crossing through the large sandy area surrounding the hill where the mine would eventually be. "They obviously know where we are, given that rift they made by Merido."
"I hate to say it, but Moogoo probably doesn't consider us a big enough threat for him to worry about. Given that you dispatched Barada with such apparent ease, I'm starting to wonder why he put up with that lizard at all."
"Barada said some pretty weird stuff before he went down." Tempo shrugged. "Maybe Moogoo agreed to take him in as part of a treaty with a higher power."
* * *
Vigo: Interesting theory.
Gren: We're not able to find out?
Vigo: No, unfortunately. I don't know any more about what Barada was talking about than Tempo does.
Gren: Maybe I should ask Rofellos about it.
Vigo: Good luck. I couldn't find him anywhere. I think he's alive right now.
Gren: Then we should be able to find him.
Vigo: Maybe not. I think this is his lifetime off, in which case, he wouldn't want to be found.
Gren: I think I'll have a look around anyway.
Vigo: Wait until Arthur gets back. We should be paying attention to them now anyway...
* * *
"A higher power than Moogoo? Yeah right." Leopold smiled. "He's as bad as they come."
"Where did he come from anyway?" Tempo asked him. Schala started paying more attention from where she was walking behind them.
"No one really knows. There's a local legend that he appeared out of a blue portal one night about three years ago. Everyone's heard the story, but no one's an eyewitness. It's very frustrating that way."
"Yes, a lack of eyewitnesses can be incredibly frustrating." Tempo said with notable bitterness.
'Whoah! Now what's this about?' Schala wondered. She increased her step so she was a little closer to them. She didn't want to miss anything.
"You talk with that much emotion in your voice, you have to tell us why." Leopold said quietly, not wanting to make him mad.
"Oh, just that the love of my life was murdered about six months ago. I'm almost one hundred percent sure of who did it, and I have no proof at all."
"Owch." Leopold winced. "I'm sorry to hear that. But if you're sure of who did it, why don't you just go after him?"
"Things aren't quite that simple where I come from." Tempo kicked the dirt, sending a cloud of dust into the air in front of them. "And to add insult to injury, Barada nabbed her sister Silva as soon as we got here. I don't know if she's still alive or not. There was no sign of her at Barada's fortress..."
"I'm almost certain she'll be in Moogoo's castle." Leopold tried to reassure him. "Master Raganorn is pretty much a match for Moogoo if they fight one on one. If Moogoo was planning the stone heist a while ahead, it would have been in his best interests to have a hostage. Of course, he seems to have the entire population of Locorn now, but don't even bother to ask me what's up with that."
Schala stepped forward so she was even with them, a strange light in her eyes, or so it seemed to Tempo when he turned to look at her. She put her hand on his shoulder. "Tempo, I promise you that as long as I'm still in one piece, you won't lose her too."
"Thank you." He said softly. He wanted to ask Schala what this sudden compassion was about, but not while Leopold was around. He marched on in silence.
"Finally. That's Kamaka, dead ahead." Leopold pointed. The town was sitting on a slight rise, glowing an orangish red in the light of the sunset. "I'll be glad to get inside and get some sleep."
"Me too." Tempo agreed. "Although I am getting a bit nervous the closer we seem to get to Moogoo."
"We'll be fine as long as Master Raganorn is with us." Leopold grinned.
"I don't see him around any-"
"Yes." Tempo interrupted Schala. She didn't protest. She realized that the hope of making it back to Raganorn was pretty much all that was keeping these two going. They remained silent as they approached the town. Leopold breathed a sigh of relief as he was about to step inside the city's walls. But then a blue light flashed, and he was thrown back to the ground.
"Now what?" He demanded, looking annoyed.
"Just a small diversion. Whatever Moogoo thinks, I couldn't just let you show up at our place with no resistance, right?" A voice taunted him.
"Kazin." He hissed, then got up and turned to face him. "You traitor, why are you doing this?"
"I have my reasons. Suffice to say, I don't feel like telling you about them. Moogoo wasn't overly pleased with what happened to Barada. You're all going to pay for that. Prepare yourself Leopold!" All three of them tensed, and Kazin did likewise. "Icequake!"
"Flame On!" Leopold charged through the freezing winds and blowing shards of ice, his sais glowing with red hot flames. Icicles shot up in front of him, only to be shattered by the blazing daggers. But then, the ground Leopold was running on shattered, the pieces scattering everywhere, and he lost his balance and fell. More ice caved in on top of him, burying him underneath.
"That was simple enough." Kazin dusted his hands off. "Now for you-" He stopped suddenly. A bright light flared off to his right.
"Oh damn it." Kazin managed to say before a flaming mass bowled into him, pushing him through the air, and smashing him into the outer wall of the city, leaving quite a dent. He slowly slid to the ground as the comet faded, revealing Raganorn standing in its place. Kazin weakly stood back up. "You'll pay for this one." He growled.
"I doubt it." Raganorn smiled, but Kazin was already teleporting away. Tempo was already digging Leopold out of the ice. In a few moments, Leopold emerged, shivering and dripping wet.
"That was a load of fun." He complained, then saw who had saved their asses. "Master Raganorn! Good to have you back! But what brings you back here?"
"I finally found Moogoo's castle." Raganorn said in a complaining tone, suggesting it had been a long and boring task. "But I was already tired from being out all day, and I had to fight about three dozen Viashino that stumbled on me when I wasn't paying attention, so I came back here to get a little rest."
"Was there any sign of the other Soul Knights over there?" Leopold asked, almost afraid of the answer.
"Not that I saw." He shook his head.
"But you know for sure where Moogoo is?" Schala spoke up.
"Most definitely. We can get started after him in just a few hours."
"That's good." Schala smiled. "With all four of us working together, his ass is grass."
"It would never occur to him to thank you for saving his life."
"Apparently not." - Ian Malcolm and Doc Thorne
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