(Nanaki says: Welcome everyone, to Tempo Trigger! This story is the direct sequel to the Origin and Aftermath of Mouth Woe, and it's now been ten years since it first went up at Icy's site, so it's high time I posted it here. However, unlike the other "ten years later" postings of my old stories that I've been doing lately, THIS story isn't finished yet. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's not even halfway there yet. It's kind of like my "Silmarillion". There are times where I'm a lot more prolific with it than others, but I'm always working on it to some extent. Schala is my muse, after all, and I'll never give up writing her story, no matter what. But enough of my babbling for now. On to the story!)

Tempo Trigger

Prologue

By Nanaki

Timeless

Vigo was as close as a cloud of floating green mist in the afterlife of the heroes of the ages could get to being bored. He had sent Zeal away for the moment, in case Rofellos dropped by unexpectedly. If he had a body, he would have been leaning back in a chair, snacking on something. He never understood how time flowed here, if time existed here at all. Millions of years could go by in the blink of an eye when it suited them, and then those years could reverse even farther, carrying them deep into the past. And then, there were times like now, where all there was to do was wait for the action to start. Gren, Arthur, and all the other heroes from his sector were out on assignment, and who knew when they'd be back. Word had it that Rofellos himself was on assignment too, although this may have been his lifetime off. But he had been all over this before. He had been over everything before, actually. He was bored.

Then, another cloud of swirling mist appeared next to him. But the odd thing was, this cloud had an odd orange tinge to the swirling green. Vigo quickly backed away from the unexpected guest. 'You! What do you want?'

'I want to help Schala, Lord Vigo. I want to make amends for what I did to her. Please.'

'Forget it Sephiroth! You blew it big time on your last assignment!'

The orange-green mist swirled in a submissive pattern. 'Yes sir. I thought I was ready to take on a Class A. Obviously, I was not.'

Vigo sighed. 'I really don't care that much. But Rofellos was quite clear. He said, and here I quote, "Why the hell did I let someone as inexperienced as him go after a Class A?! God, what a mess! He's not going anywhere else for a while." We had to give Aerith and Cloud a vacation lifetime after that one, because of you!'

'I know. That's why I want to help them. Besides, from what I saw of their so called vacation, they didn't have much rest.'

'True enough. I thought they would be able to handle a Class C easily. But they were a bit too young when the crisis came, and I think their long time apart drained their energies partially. They were designed to function as a set, and Cloud lived to be 103, I think. I wasn't here when it happened.'

'Why would that affect their powers in a timeless zone like this?'

'You'd have to ask Rofellos that one. I have no clue.' Vigo sighed again. 'Look Sephiroth, I understand where you're coming from. But I'm about to hit the one thousand mark, and I don't want to blow my chances by pissing off Rofellos now. I'm not going to give you permission.'

Sephiroth's mist began to swirl in an agitated manner. 'It's not my fault my host body was implanted with Lavoid cells before it was even born!!'

'Yeah, yeah. Tell it to Rofellos.' Vigo's mist suddenly swirled faster. 'Schala's about to land! I've wasted enough time with you!'

'Fine then, but I'm helping out, whether you like it or not!'

'Good luck finding a hero that'll give you permission!' Vigo laughed. 'Ah now, finally time for the show to begin...'


Schala dimly felt herself stirring from sleep. It felt like ages had passed since she had last been awake. As she became more aware of things, she realized that it had been ages, most likely. Probably a great many ages. She opened her eyes, and saw the beautiful light of a planet in daytime in front of her. Then, her eyes widened. Partially obscuring her view was the reason she was here, and MUCH bigger than she remembered it. 'So, I finally caught up with you!' She grinned sadistically. 'You won't get away!!' At a slight mental command, her shield instantly picked up speed, closing the gap between herself and the Lavoid.

'Oh no you don't!' She was surprised to hear it instantly reply. 'Maybe I'm still young enough that you can hurt me, but you have to catch me first!' The Lavoid picked up speed too, and a red glow surrounded them both as they began to enter the planet's atmosphere.

'I'll catch you all right!' She gritted her teeth as the shield began to shake. In a surprisingly short amount of time, they were actually in the atmosphere. Schala travelled straight downward, hoping to reach the surface before the Lavoid, but it pulled the same trick.

'I'm a Class B, human!' It yelled at her. 'You'll quickly learn that I'm not to be messed with!' The Lavoid's shell began to spin quickly in midair. Schala could only watch helplessly as it impacted on the surface, the spinning motion helping it to burrow into the ground unbelievably fast. But that was still not as fast as Schala was approaching.

'Hold that pose now. You're going down! Star magic-'

'In your dreams human!' Then, the Lavoid disappeared from sight as lava erupted from the ground, covering it completely. Schala dived in after it, but the lava ate away at her shield so fast that she quickly stopped and turned back. She doubted that even the Nooze would be able to save her from that intense heat.

Her shield came to rest at the base of the crater the Lavoid had made. "I failed again." She whispered to herself. "What can I do now? There's no way I can get to him..." The shield glinted dully in the sunlight, and she sighed heavily. "I guess it's back to suspended animation for me. But how will I wake up the next time?" Then, she angrily kicked the side of the shield. "Aw hell, like it matters! I'll wake up when he destroys this world!" Then she snapped her fingers, and the shield solidified inside. She instantly fell back into a state of dreamless sleep, not breathing, her heart not beating. Not like it ever did anyway.


The sleep wasn't dreamless for long. At least, it didn't seem like much time had passed. Schala suddenly found herself in the middle of a lush, green forest. Ahead of her, the sun was either rising or setting. She couldn't tell. But then, her eyes widened as she noticed a very familiar form leaning up against a tree. "Greven!"

He remained silent for a second, then stood up and looked in her general direction. "It's been a while Schala. I hope you're feeling all right. Well enough to take on a Lavoid anyway."

"Greven, this is-" But he didn't wait for her to finish.

"I hope you realize you're a wild card here. You should really be dead, like me. But the heroes have allowed you to remain in this form. I'm going to be one step ahead of you as a result. Now, pardon me for doing this, but I owe you one." With that, he turned and ran toward the sun.

"Wait a minute!" Schala cried. "What is all this? What's going on? Come back here and explain!" She started to run too, but for some reason it felt like she was running in slow motion. Looking down, she saw that her feet were moving, but she wasn't going anywhere. Greven got further and further away until the sun swallowed him up. "Greven!!"

"He can't hear you, you know. This is a prerecorded message. He's already been reborn." Schala whirled around to find a man with extremely long white hair standing behind her, an extremely long sword slung on his back.

"Who are you?" She quickly demanded.

"I was supposed to be a hero. But someone screwed up." He said sadly.

"I didn't ask what you were supposed to be!" Schala yelled, suddenly feeling angry. "I asked who you were!"

"I guess I'm nobody special." He shrugged. "Just a one winged angel."

Schala grimaced, taking that to be some kind of riddle. "In other words, not effective?"

The man smiled. "Yes, that's pretty accurate. A one winged angel isn't effective." He laughed a little, as if he had just realized it.

"Anyway, why are you here?" She kept a fair distance from him.

"It's pretty simple, actually. I want to help you take down that Lavoid."

Schala began to smile. "Well why didn't you say so? Of course! Why would you even need my permission for that?"

He remained silent for a moment, then frowned a little. "Because, once before, well, technically, I killed you."

"Oh." Her smile vanished for a minute, then appeared again. "Who the hell cares?! My own mother killed me! I don't care!"

"You mean it?" He began to smile now.

"Sure! Go right ahead."

He bowed to her. "Thank you very much, Lady El." He smiled at the confused look on her face. "You'll understand, far in the future. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a little time travelling to do."

"Wait! What's your name, anyway?"

"It doesn't matter. I'll be someone else the next time you see me, anyway. Goodbye Lady, and see you soon." With that, he vanished from the forest.

.

Then, the forest vanished too. Now it seemed like she was underwater. In the distance, she saw Greven again, dimly. Whether he was drifting away from her, or she was drifting away from him, she couldn't tell, but they were getting farther and farther apart. "Stop!" She shouted, finding that it didn't seem that she was underwater after all. "I've had enough of this! I want to be with him!" She was extremely surprised to see whatever force had been acting upon her comply. She drifted closer to him until he was right in front of her. "What is going on here?!" She demanded of him. But he made no move to answer right away. 'Must be another prerecorded message.' She thought bitterly.

Then, he began to stir. "Hello again Schala. By now, I'm sure you're tired of all this talk about the heroes of the ages, and all these confusing dreams and insinuations. Well, that's all about to end. Are you ready to take on that Lavoid?"

"Of course! I've been ready!" She shouted at him.

"Well, I sure hope you said yes," he broke into a grin, "because here we go!" With that, he reached up with his hand, and placed it on her forehead. Then, an immensely bright blue light flashed in front of her eyes, and she was waking up...

.

"Don't worry about it."

"I can't help it..."

"Then, why don't you REALLY worry about it?" - Aerith Gainsborough and Cloud Strife, Final Fantasy VII

.

Tempo Trigger

Chapter 1: Awakenings

By Nanaki

1995 A.D.

The rain continued to pour down, even though the sky lightened. The water poured down his face, half blinding him, but he didn't care. The coffin was in front of him again. After countless times, when he had thought he was done with this for good, the coffin was in front of him.

'God, not this again.' As the people gathered closer to the grave wept to each other, and the coffin began to be lowered into the ground, he remained stoic. He could handle it now, he had seen it replayed in his dreams so many times. At least, that's what he told himself. 'Why can't it be an open casket funeral?' He had demanded.

'The body's pretty messed up, kid. Whoever killed her did a damn fine job, and it looks like they took a while too.'

'Even her face? I just want to see her one last time, if only to say goodbye.'

'Sorry kid. The family requested it this way. Her face only has a couple bruises, and one cut, but it looks like she was strangled, and had her throat slashed.'

He had clenched his fist, yet again. 'Have the police seen all this? Was there any evidence of sexual assault?'

'Yeah, they took a good long look. There may have been evidence, but like I said, the body was really messed up. I mean, everywhere. Someone was practicing their carving skills.'

'Is there any clue who did this?'

'Not so far. Any finger prints were washed away by all the blood. But the police are on it.'

'But there's no need.' He blinked now as the rain dripped in his eyes. 'I know who it was. Even if there's no evidence, I know who it was.' Then, his eyes widened as the object of his hatred actually appeared, walking slowly toward the still open grave. Shaking off his amazement, he ran over to the grave. "How dare you actually show up here?!" He roared at the top of his lungs.

"Such theatrics." The man scoffed. "She was my friend too."

"You killed her!!" He roared in the other man's face. "And I'm pretty damn sure you raped her before, and maybe afterward too. How dare you show up here?! Isn't it enough that you took her away from me?"

"That wasn't why." He looked up at the sky, oblivious to the pouring rain. "You need to forget about me. You've got bigger fish to fry."

"I don't think so. And even if I do, I swear I'll kill you someday, Garin!"

"Not too damn likely. Forget about it. Forget about her. You've dwelled far too long on this. It's unbecoming for one like you." Then, the scene faded to black.

'I'll never forget Rena, and especially not you!!' He shouted. To what, he didn't know.

Then, a dim light lit up his subconcious, as if coming from a distant fire. Something large came into view. It seemed like he was flying over a dim fire late at night, but he realized that wasn't it. A huge circular mound sat over a bed of lava. He could clearly see as he drew closer. There were gigantic spikes sticking up everywhere out of the circular object, and there were small spikes sticking out of those. Suddenly, a five pronged pod on the front of the object opened wide, casting an eerie blue glow on the area. Combined with the red of the lava, an eerie purple light flooded the room. 'So, more heroic telepathy at work.' A scornful voice filled his head. 'It doesn't matter. Make my presence known to all the heroes you want. I can never be defeated, now that I am grown, and strong. I will destroy all those who oppose me.' Then, the blue light grew much stronger, and the pod emitted a horrible noise. Nothing human could ever duplicate the sound. It eventually tapered off, and ended in a burbling noise, as if someone's throat were being cut.

.

He blinked his sleep filled eyes as sunlight filled the room. "Get up Tempo!" His dad shouted at him. "Or else you're going to be late for Soultech training!"

"I should be done training." Tempo complained as he sat up, rubbing his eyes. "I swear the council is holding me back in favor of their own relatives."

"They're holding you back because they believe you need more training!" His father reprimanded him. "Besides, today's the day for promotions. We'll see if you're ready yet."

"I forgot about that." Tempo got out of bed, then rooted through his dresser for his Soultech uniform. A long, thick, short sleeved green shirt that really could have been a robe on a short person, thick black pants, and heavy brown boots. He started to get dressed as his dad left the room. 'What kind of dream was that?' He wondered to himself. 'Certainly a new twist on an old nightmare.' He reached up on the wall for his weapon, what the Soultech academy termed a "training mace." It was a solid metal ball on the end of a short staff, but without any spikes. 'I swear Rena, when they let me have a real one of these, I'll kill Garin for you. And for me too, to be honest.' As a secondary precaution, he also pulled out a whip and wrapped it into his belt, next to the mace. He hurried downstairs and ate a bowl of cereal without even stopping to see what kind it was. Then he got up and made for the door.

"I want you back before midnight tonight!" His dad shouted.

"I'll see what I can do." Tempo responded dryly, then went outside before his dad could say anything else. He jogged down the hill his house was on, toward the Soultech academy of Locorn city, barely visible through the trees in the distance. He was about halfway there when a hand suddenly pounded him on the back.

"Tempo, my man! Where have you been?" Tempo whirled around to find his best friend, Sowell, standing behind him. "The band's been missing you at practice. It's hard to keep the beat without our drummer, you know?"

"Yeah, well, I've been busy lately."

"Working out because you knew promotions were coming up?"

"You know me too well."

"Well, I hate to tell you this, but maybe I better so you don't have to go in there today. They gave the squireship to Garin. You're still a page, for now."

"What the hell?!" Tempo burst out. "I could beat Garin easily! He may be better with a weapon than me, but if we ever fought each other with our powers, I'd kick his ass so hard!..."

"You probably would." Sowell nodded. "Look, they just gave it to him because he's Lord Nagar's son. Everyone knows it. Besides, you should save your powers for someone worth the trouble."

'Oh, he's worth the trouble.' Tempo thought to himself, but said nothing out loud. He hadn't brought up his suspicions about Rena's death to anyone else, not even Sowell.

"Look, there's plenty of other councilor's sons in your class. Maybe you should be looking for another job."

"I don't really want to..." Tempo frowned.

"What? Just because your father used to be a Soultech commander?"

"No, because of my mother..." He continued to frown.

"Oh yeah. Sorry man. I thought your primary moping was over Rena now. Oops!" He looked embarrassed as he realized what he had said.

"No, now my 'primary moping,' as you call it, is about them both." They both remained silent for a minute. "So what kind of other job are you talking about?"

"The mine's looking for new workers. Some of it's part time. I think you could handle it."

"I don't ever wanna work in that place, or any place like it, without getting to see what it's really like in there before I sign up."

"Easy. Sneak in and take a look around while they're on break."

"You gotta be kidding me."

"Why not? Besides, you don't want to go in to Soultech when Garin will be overly full of himself, do you?"

"I suppose I've got nothing to lose."

"Great! I've got to get to work now. And show up at practice tonight all right? We can't play at Locorn high school during halftime Saturday if you're not there."

"I'll see what I can do." Tempo grinned.

"Sheeyah, right! Show up, okay?" Then, he ran off up the hill. Tempo slowly began to head toward the mine, but continued to circle close to the academy anyway.

"Hey Tempo!" Someone called.

'Urgh! What does everbody want this morning?' He demanded of himself, before turning around. "Oh, Silva! Good morning."

"I'm afraid it's not so good." The girl responded. She was dressed in jeans and a short blue shirt, her long blonde hair flowing over her shoulders. "Garin got the promotion."

"I heard." He grimaced. "I'm thinking of going over to the mine and checking out the scene there." She laughed a little. "What? You don't think I could handle it?"

"No, not really." Silva's smile vanished. "I hate to say it, but you haven't been able to handle much since my sister died."

"How can I, when I know her killer is laughing at me, every day?!" He suddenly grew angry.

"You think it doesn't bother me too? I think about her every day, but there was never any evidence to indicate who it was. Just an example of human cruelty."

"I can handle mine work." He quickly changed the subject. "Sorry about the outburst, but you know how..."

"I know. But we all need to move on. And staying on that subject, are you still taking me out Saturday night?"

"I suppose." He rubbed the back of his head nervously. "But you know I need to be at the school to set up with the rest of the band fairly early, right?"

"Sure. That's all right. I hope you actually show up. So you're serious about the mine?"

"I didn't think so, but I suppose."

"Can I go over there with you?"

"I don't see why not, although you might miss lunch..." 'But that's never been a problem for you.' He grimaced to himself. They made their way south to the mine entrance. Tempo lounged around the entrance for a while, making small talk until the miners started coming out for their lunch break. He grabbed Silva and ducked behind one of the many boulders near the entrance.

"You don't exactly have permission for this, do you?" Silva whispered.

"One might say that." He grinned at her. "Shh!" He wanted to hear what the miners were saying. He wasn't disappointed, as he could hear them fairly clearly.

"I tell ya Earl, I struck somethin' weird down at the bottom of the east shaft. I dunno what the hell it is. Looked kinda blue."

"Relax, Bill. We'll check it out after lunch. Don' worry about it."

After the last of them headed off, Tempo ran into the entrance, Silva following close behind. He hadn't gone very far inside, when the tunnel seemed to end suddenly. "Damn it! Let my eyes adjust here..."

"You're in an elevator shaft." Silva told him, stifling a gigle.

"Oh. Cool. Activate it and hop inside."

"You're really going all the way down there?" She was surprised.

"Of course? How else can I get an accurate idea of the conditions?"

"You could ask the miners, you know."

"Ah yes, but that would be too simple." He grinned again.

"Then I'll stay up here, if it's all the same to you. I'm a bit claustrophobic."

"Suit yourself." Tempo finally found a lever as his eyes adjusted, and he yanked it downward. "See you soon." The elevator then dropped down the shaft at a surprising pace, before finally stopping to rest in a very dimly lit area. 'Hmm... I'm not fond of the lack of light.' He grimaced. He found a pick axe resting next to some complicated drilling equipment, and hefted it up. 'I could handle this.' He swung it around a few times. 'Let's see what's down here.' He walked further down the tunnel, and noticed that there were even fewer lights.

He turned a corner far down the line, and suddenly came to a stop. He was up against a dead end. 'Guess that's the end of that. Time to be heading back up anyw... Hello! What have we here?' He spotted a dim blue glow in the cave wall. He reached up and touched the small, smooth area, and it seemed to brighten a little at his touch. 'This is weird! I have to see what it is. Guess it's time to really test out this thing.' He swung the pick axe again, trying to avoid hitting the odd substance. He accidentally hit it dead on once, but it seemed impervious to the swing. He eventually gave up that activity when he had uncovered about five feet veritcally and three feet horizontally, and there was still no end in sight. 'Okay... So what is this thing?' He demanded of himself, hitting it with the axe again. Nothing happened. 'Sheesh. Maybe I wouldn't be able to do this all day after all.' He leaned back against the odd blue surface.

Suddenly, a brilliant blue glow lit up the mine. "Gaah!" He jumped forward, and the glow stopped. "What the...? It's touch activated?" He stepped back for a second. 'I'm not sure I should be messing with this.' He looked at the palm of his hand for a second. 'Aw, what the hell? Why not? Here we go!' Then he reached out again, and laid his palm flat on the surface. He winced and closed his eyes as the blinding blue glow filled the tunnel again. It finally seemed to dim, after nearly blinding him even with his eyes closed. As he opened his eyes, he noticed not only that most of the odd substance had melted away, but that his palm was now resting on another outstretched hand. He jumped back in surprise as a young woman fell forward out of the odd structure, groaning. "Whoah! Hey, um... Are you all right?" 'What in the hell is going on here?!' He kneeled down to check on her. A blue glow continued to come from the broken, crystal like substance, providing ample light. He started to feel for a pulse, but the woman pulled her arm away from him.

"Don't bother..." She whispered in a hoarse voice. "I'll be fine in a minute. Thanks for getting me out of there, whoever you are."

"My name's Tempo." He stood up, then reached his arms down to help her up as well.

She took his hands, almost as if she was bored. "I suppose it's nice to meet you..." Then she stopped, and blinked suddenly, as if she was seeing something that wasn't there. "Did you say Tempo?"

He nodded as he helped her to her feet. "That's right. Something the matter?"

An incredibly happy look crossed her face, but she seemed to supress it. "No. Nothing's wrong. My name is Schala of... Well, just call me Schala."

"All right Schala. What exactly happened to you? Or should I even be asking?"

"I don't think you should, and you wouldn't believe me if I told you anyway."

"Very well. Whatever is going on here, we should get out of this place."

"I agree." Schala took a step forward, then collapsed again.

"Whoah! I'm sorry, do you need any help?" He helped her back up, then put her arm around his shoulders, supporting her.

"I'm fine, really." She protested, but he paid no attention. "Okay..." She smiled a little.

They walked like that for a way, until they arrived at where Tempo thought the elevator should be. "What the...? There should be an elevator here." He squinted in the darkness. "I can barely see. Are the lights going out back there?"

"Back where?" Schala was puzzled.

"What do you mean? I..." Tempo's voice trailed off as he turned around. His nose was just inches from solid rock. There was no evidence that a tunnel had ever been behind him. "I must be hallucinating." He shook his head, very confused. Turning to face forward again, he saw there was a vertical shaft leading upward in front of him, but no elevator was inside. "Don't tell me we're stuck down here!"

"Hardly." Schala grinned, then pulled the pendant out of her robes. It was glowing a very dim blue. "Whoah. This thing's really running low, but it should have enough power to get us out of here." Schala closed her eyes, then they were suddenly floating up through the shaft at a rapid pace. Tempo decided that it would be best not to say anything. He wouldn't know where to begin anyway. Looking down, he saw that the rock was following them up the shaft. When they eventually reached the top, there was no evidence that it had ever been there.

"Finally! I see daylight up ahead." Tempo raced for the exit, Schala following slowly behind. Just as he reached the entrance, there was another blinding flash of blue, and they were suddenly standing side by side next to a solid hillside. The mine had vanished. But that was the least of Tempo's worries. "I don't think we're in Locorn anymore..."

.

"You're uneasy... But happy? Because I'm here? I'm sorry... I don't understand." - Aerith Gainsborough, Final Fantasy VII

(Nanaki's note: This has absolutely nothing to do with the story, but being that today is August 2nd, I just want to give a quick shout-out here to wish IcyBrian a happy 26th birthday! It's more than fair to say that this story would not exist without him, in several ways. Singing: And many more, on channel four! And Scooby Doo, on channel two! And Frankenstein, on channel nine! And something funny, on channel twenty! And something dirty, on channel thirty... All right, I'll shut up now.)