Chapter 62: Tyrant Lizard Kings
The End of Time
As Schala stepped back onto the cobblestones of the end of time, she noticed that the three beds they'd spent the night on had disappeared. Keldon was back at his usual spot at the base of the torch pillar. "So, was it worth the trip?" He asked.
"We'll see." Tempo answered crankily.
"Never mind him. It definitely was." Silva grinned.
"Anyway, we've spent enough time around here. Let's get going already." Tempo gestured toward where the Skyshroud Ranger was parked.
"I agree with that." Lion took the lead as they headed down to the ship. "The sooner we get this over with, the sooner I can get back to Tess and Sabre." Tempo briefly wondered if there was something he couldn't wait to go back to when this adventure was over. He decided there wasn't anything. In fact, daily life as a Soultech soldier was going to seem pretty damn boring by comparison.
Schala was having a similar train of thought, but she was wondering if there was any point to surviving the coming battle in the first place. Perhaps saving other worlds as she planned on saving this one... But as noble as that goal was, it wasn't a PERSONAL reason, and she found it didn't inspire much motivation. Deep down, she was aware that there was still a part of her that craved the death she had been denied the night she and Greven had been killed by Queen Zeal. That same part that had made her throw herself out the window the next morning and royally freak out Janus was still alive in her, she just hadn't been paying much attention to it lately. Plus, since she literally COULDN'T die, there wasn't much point in dwelling on those thoughts anyway. 'So then why are you so worried about that stone toe?' She asked herself. 'I guess not wanting to be alive anymore and actually facing death are two different things.' She realized.
Lion seemed to pick up on the morose reaction his comment had caused. "Uh, sorry guys." He grinned sheepishly as he turned around. "I didn't mean to bring everybody down."
"It's not your fault." Tempo shrugged.
"Yeah, I'm glad one of us has something to look forward to." Schala agreed.
"Hey, there is at least one good thing about heading to 70 million B.C." Lion tried to lighten the mood. "There's a pretty good chance we'll see some dinosaurs." He pointed out as he opened the door to the ship.
"Pretty good?" Tempo asked skeptically. "Unless we spend all our time there in the arctic, we definitely WILL see some dinosaurs."
"What's a dinosaur?" Schala wondered.
"Giant lizards, basically." Silva answered.
"That's... not even kind of correct." Tempo shook his head as he stepped into the Ranger. He was a bit underwhelmed, as the ship looked exactly like it had before, aside from a new control panel. "While most dinosaurs probably looked reptilian, they were warm-blooded and lived in all kinds of climates. Some of them were probably the ancestors of today's birds."
"A word of advice: Don't get Tempo talking about dinosaurs." Silva informed the other two. "He was obsessed with them when he was a kid. He still is, in fact, but he hides it better now."
"So what's wrong with that, anyway?" Tempo shrugged. Silva didn't seem to have a ready retort for that.
"Hmmm..." Lion ran his hands over the new controls as he settled down in the pilot's seat. "Well, this is user-friendly to the point of being irritating." He pointed to a large clock-like display with the words "time gauge" printed above it. The needle of the gauge was currently all the way at the top notch, marked "End of Time". Below that was Lion's time, 3500 A.D., then Tempo and Silva's, 1995 A.D. After that, things started to get interesting. Next was 1855 A.D., then 975 A.D., then 8,000 B.C. Finally, the last labeled notch was marked with 70 million B.C. However, there were several more unlabeled notches under that, making it look like new times could be added to the lineup if necessary.
"Now that's interesting." Tempo pointed at 8,000 B.C. "I doubt Keldon would have programmed those two in there just for the hell of it."
"No way." Lion agreed. "Something tells me our final confrontation with Levasos won't be in the prehistoric age after all."
"I guess we should have seen that coming." Silva let out a small sigh as she sat down. "Levasos does have the power to travel through time at will, after all."
"Well then, should we even go right to Levasos' lair, or should we see what we can find out in the other times first?" Lion wondered.
Tempo thought that over for a second. "No. For Schala's sake, we need to go somewhere we know we can find Lavoid energy. The only source we know of besides Levasos is in 70 million B.C. So, that's where we need to go."
Lion shrugged. "You're the boss. Apparently." He smirked.
"Do you really disagree?" Tempo looked surprised.
"Well," Schala spoke up, "It might not be a bad idea to scout around the other times first, and see what we can find out."
"Ironic as this may sound from someone standing in a time machine, we don't have time to waste." Tempo shook his head. "I have a feeling we'll end up in those other times soon enough." He sighed. "For now, let's do what we planned on doing."
"All right then." Lion's hands began flying over the controls, and the Skyshroud Ranger began to power up. "Here we go!" The ship began to gently drift away from the cobblestone platforms. Soon enough, the dark mists of the end of time were replaced by the swirling blue waves of time warp.
70 Million B.C.
Just a few seconds later, the blue waves quickly dissipated to reveal nothing but sunlit jungle as far as the eye could see. There were a few hills in the distance, but these were covered with trees as well. "All right, let's land for a bit before we charge right at him." Tempo suggested.
"What do you think that will accomplish?" Lion asked, though he was already circling the ship around, looking for something resembling a clear spot to land.
"Let's put our new powers to work and try to sense exactly where he is." Tempo replied. "Plus, Keldon said Levasos made sure there were no Gates leading to this time, so I'm betting he'll have some way of sensing that someone just time traveled here. We should lay low for a little bit in case he sends someone to check things out."
"I guess that makes sense." Lion admitted. "But what if he comes to investigate himself?"
"Then that'll save me some trouble." Schala said with a grim smile.
"All right, that looks like it'll do." Lion guided the ship toward a section of forest that looked like a fire had swept through it not long ago. New ferns and small trees had already sprung up around the scorched trunks of the old trees, most of which had fortunately fallen down. Lion expertly set the ship down between the few that remained standing, and quickly powered the engines down. As the main door whooshed open, everyone took a deep breath.
"Oh wow, that is FRESH air." Silva remarked.
"It should be." Tempo nodded as he stood up. "The atmosphere in this time has a higher percentage of oxygen than what we're used to."
Silva's eyebrows furrowed in thought, even as a smile appeared on her face. "You learned that from studying dinosaurs, didn't you?"
"Well, yeah." Tempo shrugged. "And again, what's wrong with that? Besides, I bet that knowledge is going to come in handy pretty soon." Tempo stepped out of the ship into a field of knee high ferns. At the edge of the burned clearing, an ancient forest that never had and never would see loggers soared into the air, vines wrapping around most of the trunks. The air was warm and humid, the temperature barely dropping when a towering thunderhead drifted in front of the sun. "Well, it sure it pretty here." Tempo observed as the others stepped outside as well. "Reminds me that I haven't been camping in a while."
"I've done nothing BUT camp for most of the last few years." Lion groaned. "Trust me, you start to miss having a bed pretty quick." Before anyone could respond to this, they became aware of a rapid thumping sound. It was quiet, sounding like it came from way off in the distance, but it seemed to be growing louder by the second. "What is that?" Lion wondered what they were all thinking.
"Thunder?" Silva ventured a guess as she looked up at the sky.
"No, the beat is too regular." Tempo observed. Soon enough, the thumping could be felt through the ground as well as heard. Tempo guessed that it was four beats per second, or at least pretty close. As it continued to get louder, he also realized that it was coming from two different sources that were nearly synced up, but not completely. "We should probably hide." He realized out loud. The words were barely out of his mouth when the thumping stopped.
"Do you see anything?" Silva asked as she looked back and forth.
"No..." Tempo caught a whiff of a faint, but unpleasant odor. If he had to pick a specific scent to describe it, he would have said it smelled like rotting meat.
"What's that smell?" Schala asked, and Tempo was glad she had the sense to ask very quietly.
"I don't see anything on this side of the ship." Tempo said, also quietly. "But I have a feeling we're not going to like what's on the other side." He beckoned with his left hand, and they all started to walk around the rear of the Skyshroud Ranger, making as little noise as possible. As Tempo had guessed, it was already too late to try to be stealthy. Standing at the edge of the forest on the opposite side of the ship were two enormous dinosaurs that everyone but Schala immediately recognized as members of the species Tyrannosaurus Rex.
As the humans came into view, the two tyrannosaurs raised their heads a bit. They sniffed the air, and the two fingers on their relatively tiny arms began twitching. Then they lowered their heads close to the ground and let out an earth shaking roar. Tempo knew it was going to be loud, but he was unprepared for HOW loud. His vision actually blurred at the force of the sound, and he imagined standing right next to a jet engine would probably be more peaceful. As soon as the roar stopped, the towering carnivores charged forward, looking surprisingly agile for such large animals.
"Stay calm everyone." Lion spoke slightly louder than normal, thanks to the ringing in his ears. "We're stronger than they are, though we'll probably have to prove it before they back off." Lion quickly began to glow bright yellow.
A second later, green flames sprang up around Tempo. "Just stay out of harm's way, ladies. We'll handle this." He spoke calmly as the tyrannosaur on the left closed to within striking distance, bringing its head down and snapping its jaws shut where Tempo was. Ten feet to the right, the other tyrannosaur did the same to Lion. Two different things happened.
The rex attacking Tempo blinked its eyes several times in confusion, clearly not understanding how Tempo had gone from between its jaws to end up standing on top of its nose.
The rex attacking Lion was gnawing on him, but nothing was happening. It was as if Lion was a solid metal statue embedded in the ground.
"Don't hurt them more than you have to." Tempo called to Lion as his rex started to swing its head from side to side. "However fierce they are, they're not monsters."
"Yeah, just really, really huge carnivores. That's very comforting." Lion responded as he wrinkled his nose. Up close, the tyrannosaur's breath was quite possibly its most potent weapon. The yellow glow coming from Lion quickly increased in intensity, and the rex attacking him backed off, sniffing the air in confusion.
Tempo's rex was clearly gearing up to try to shake him off. Not waiting to give it the chance, Tempo gave the dinosaur a hard punch right between the eyes. He hoped it would be hard enough to convince the rex to back off, or knock it out, but not hard enough to kill it. Instead of collapsing, the dinosaur jerked its head up quickly, and Tempo went flying into the air. Rather than waiting to see what the rex had planned when he came back down, Tempo simply hovered high above it. "Whew, you're tougher than I thought!" He called down to the dinosaur.
Meanwhile, Lion aimed a small ball of energy at the torso of his rex. It was easily enough to kill a human, but he guessed that against an animal this large, with this much muscle tissue, it wouldn't do much more than scorch the skin. Instead of impacting and exploding however, the yellow ball of energy seemed to dissipate into dozens of smaller orbs that quickly disappeared. Energy glowed on the surface of the tyrannosaur's skin where the orb had hit for a second, then it disappeared as well. "What the hell?" Lion frowned in puzzlement.
Simultaneously, both tyrannosaurs began to move their forearms and the two fingers on them in a purposeful manner. Tempo wasn't sure why at first, but he was convinced that they weren't just waving their arms in frustration. Then Tempo remembered that he had occasionally seen Schala making hand gestures while casting magic spells. She probably did it all the time, he was just usually preoccupied with other things while they were in battle. The question of HOW a tyrannosaur could possibly use magic wasn't important at the moment. All that mattered was that Tempo was sure they were going to do it. "Lion, get ready to dodge!" He shouted toward the ground.
The tyrannosaurs finished their arm gestures, then both pointed their snouts at their respective targets, their mouths hanging slightly open. In front of each, a large, molten rock appeared, easily the size of a car. Each fiery boulder rocketed toward its target at a surprising speed. Tempo quickly flew to one side, but the meteor, or whatever it was, curled around and flew back toward him. Lion waited until his was almost on top of him, then jumped above it faster than a human should have been able to move. The meteor crashed into the ground and exploded before it could start to change direction.
Tempo tried a couple changes of direction, but the meteor stayed right on him, growing closer by the second. "Fine then! MegaShield!" The polygonal shield spell quickly encased him, and the meteor shattered against the shield as if it was a clump of dirt. From where he now hovered to the left side of his tyrannosaur, Tempo had a perfect view of the back of the one that was attacking Lion. A glowing blue stone, about the size of a bowling ball, was attached to the back of the rex's skull by some sort of golden support structure. Tempo was sure that was responsible for the dinosaurs' magical abilities.
An instant later, Tempo was nearly blinded as Lion unleashed two huge beams of solar energy at his rex. They combined into one monstrous stream of energy right before they hit. However, Tempo could see that they were having no more effect than a stream of water would. The tyrannosaur staggered back a bit, as if it was wading through a raging river, but it was otherwise unharmed. Just as Lion cut off his flow of energy, another meteor crashed into Tempo's shield, and he turned back to glare at his rex.
"All right big guy, if that's the way you want to play it, have some of this!" Tempo stretched his arms out in front of him, and his palms began to glow a brighter green than the rest of him. "Thousand Point Blast!" The rest of the clearing momentarily fell silent as everyone, including the other tyrannosaur, watched hundreds of bright green fireballs burst out from Tempo, then race toward his rex. Just before the first fireballs hit, a spherical energy shield burst into being around the tyrannosaur. It disappeared behind the light and debris of hundreds of explosions, but when the dust cleared, the rex remained right where it had been, an electrical kind of hum coming from its shield. "Sheesh, this could go on for a while." Tempo observed as he wiped some sweat from his forehead.
The tyrannosaur's magical shield faded back into the aether from which it had come, and the second it did, several bolts of lightning lanced down from the sky at the rex. Unfortunately, the tyrannosaur's shield reappeared even faster than the lightning struck. The dinosaur realized that Schala was responsible for the lightning even before Tempo did, and it turned to glare in her direction, a low growl escaping from its throat. The other rex turned away from Lion to glare at Schala as well. They barely held still for a second before they both charged at her.
"Oh no you don't!" Tempo and Lion shouted at the same time. Lion darted in front of his rex, planted his feet for a split second, then launched into a jumping uppercut aimed at the huge carnivore's chin. The tyrannosaur jerked its head to the side, then spun around and smacked Lion with its tail as he started to come back down. Lion was bounced into the ground, where the rex promptly stomped on him as hard as it could. Lion's chi was sufficiently powerful to keep him from being hurt by any of this, but he couldn't help blinking his eyes in stunned disbelief for a second, which was all the time his rex needed.
Meanwhile, Tempo had raced through the air at his rex, not pulling his punch this time. He hit the tyrannosaur at the base of the neck as hard as he could. The rex noisily crashed to the ground, bellowing in surprise more than pain, but it was back on its feet a second later. Tempo saw that Schala and Silva were running away as fast as their legs could carry them, so he wasn't real concerned about stopping the tyrannosaur where it was. Instead, he started charging up for an even more powerful magical attack than before, hoping to blast through the dinosaur's shield with brute force.
Everyone realized too late that Schala wasn't the tyrannosaurs' target after all. They were after the Skyshroud Ranger. As he closed in, Tempo's rex leapt amazingly high into the air for such a heavy animal, then crashed down onto and through the roof of the ship. Even as he started stomping toward the controls at the front of the ship, Lion's rex darted in and starting chomping on the nearest engine, which didn't stand up to this treatment nearly as well as Lion himself had. Its foot crashed through the rear gate a moment later. Tempo, full to the brim of power which now wouldn't do much good, felt like an idiot.
Lion calmly stood up, dusted himself off, and walked right up to the rexes that were gleefully stomping and gnawing on the remains of his ship. "Well, I hope you two are proud of yourselves." The tyrannosaurs both turned to look at him in puzzlement. Lion wasn't sure if they could understand what he was saying or not, but they seemed to recognize from his tone of voice that he still wasn't afraid of them, which confused them. "Because now I'm mad."
"You hear that? That's an impact tremor is what it is. I'm fairly alarmed here." - Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park (movie)
(Nanaki's note: So, it's good to be back. I didn't mean to take another multi-year break from this story, (I never do, in fact.) but some big things have been happening in my life. The main thing is, I fell in love. Being something of a know-it-all type, I thought I knew what love was before this relationship, but I most definitely did not. At any rate, just as I had trouble getting any writing done for the first couple years after I started working full time, it took my brain some time to adjust to the idea that I can be in love AND still get some writing done now and then. But enough about me, let's talk about the story.
Since I last updated, this story has received a few lengthy and insightful reviews. This time around, I want to address a few of the points from a review submitted last year, by Kasienda. I'm not going to reprint the whole thing here, because you can all just go click on the reviews to read it anyway. First off, I want to say that her review probably would have made me mad when I was seventeen, but now, I think it's spot on. She's absolutely right that when the story made the transition from Mount Woe into Tempo Trigger, it stopped being character driven. It was supposed to be plot driven instead, but since almost all of the main plot points were being kept secret at first, it wasn't driven by plot either. Basically, people were supposed to be into the story just because I was the one writing it. Believe it or not, on Icy's site in 1998, that was reason enough.
Here's one item I want to address: "My favorite character is Lionello! He starts out snarky and scoundrelish. And then you give him a well developed back story with emotion. He seems like a real person. (Tempo in comparison only has very superficial relationships with his friends)" First off, I'm glad you like Lion. Though I did cheat a bit with him in that he's based more on me than any of the other characters are. In regards to Tempo, it's true that he only interacts with his friends on a very shallow level, but that's true to life given the time period he's from. That's how high school guys act. Or at least, that's how high school guys in Oregon acted in the late '90s. I haven't seen anything that indicates high schoolers have grown any more mature or thoughtful since then. I don't mean to sound like I'm mad about that criticism; it's completely accurate. I'm just saying, there's a reason for it.
Second: "I do think Tess forgave Lion a little too easily. Because even if she understands and trusts that he loves her - the pain and anger she feels at and because of him is not just going to vanish. Intentions don't matter nearly as much as your actual deeds. She needs some time I think. Although - I do suppose two years went by during all of this. So her forgiving him should happen somewhere in the middle of those two years rather than right at the beginning of those two years." True enough. That's basically how I imagine it, actually. Note that after the scene in the stairwell, Lion skips over a year and a half of what happened next. In my mind, I didn't picture them getting romantic right away, but she was at least willing to talk to Lion again, which was the main thing. She had made up her mind to give him a chance, not magically forgive everything right on the spot.
Finally: "I loved the dream chapter where Levasos (how do you pronounce that? I can't - I've tried) has private conversations with them all." Those chapters actually turned out better than I expected when I started them, particularly chapter 53. As to how to pronounce Levasos, it's pretty much like you'd expect. It was one of my lazier names, actually. I just took "Lavos", nudged each vowel over one syllable, then put an E in the beginning and another S on the end. It's not like a Gundam name that's pronounced way different from how it's spelled. Looking in your direction here, Quatre Raberba Winner. At any rate, I'm glad you enjoyed the story despite its flaws. Who knows when I'll have the next chapter done, but hopefully it'll be sooner rather than later. My Star Wars story is nibbling at my brain too, so I'm not sure which one will be updated next. Right now, I better sign off before my notes become longer than the actual text in this chapter. So long for now.)