Grasping onto one another, Eureka and Renton held fast as they were pushed and shoved from all sides as the crowd around them scattered off in all directions.
"What the heck is going on?" Renton asked thinking aloud, while the screams and yells coming from all around them continued to wale.
It was only because they were face to face that they could hear each other clearly, "I don't know Renton, I don't like this." Eureka answered, cringing as another person shoved past her from behind.
Renton started looking around for an escape but as he did so he was sure to assure Eureka, "It's alright, we just need to get out of here…" He stopped for a moment as he saw Mathieu still standing up on the stage where he had been performing. "Come on, this way Eureka!" Renton yelled, as he leaned into the panicking mob.
Eureka nodded and followed him as they squirmed through the confused crowd. Eventually they were close enough that Renton believed he could be heard as he called out to Mathieu, "Hey Mathieu, down here!"
Thankfully the afro-d man did hear him over the ruckus and looked down, "Renton, Eureka get over here; I'll give ya two a lift!" Taking one last push through the crowd they made their way to the stage's edge and where then promptly pulled up onto the platform by Mathieu.
Renton leaned on his knees and caught his breath, as did Eureka. After a moment he looked back up to Mathieu whom had gone back to surveying the scene, "Thanks Mathieu…*huff huff*… what in the world is going on?"
Mathieu pointed out a corner of the festival grounds where the LFOs had been displayed. Renton and Eureka turned and both gasped at what they saw. "Looks like somebody got the bright idea to go for a joyride in the middle of the celebration… man this is a major groove killer." Mathieu commented as he lamented his unfinished song.
While they were close enough to see what was happening, the rampaging LFOs were far enough away that they were not in immediate danger. Besides that it was also epically clear that everyone in the area was scattering off in a panic away from the disturbance.
As the three of them watched Renton's mind fluttered back to his and Eureka's date, "Damn it, another freaking crisis… and we were having fun too…" Fate's cruel sense of humor struck into Renton's side like a well placed arrow of injustice and as he couldn't contain the unfairness of it all he yelled at the top of his lungs, "DAMN IT!"
Huffing in deep breaths it took Renton a moment to register that he may have overreacted slightly. Looking first to Mathieu and then to Eureka he noted that they were both looking at him warily. "Sorry… I was just…" Renton apologized as he turned away and hid his reddening face from the other two.
"Idiot… just like Holland sometimes…" Mathieu mumbled under his breath as he turned from the edge of the stage and started heading for the back wall. Meanwhile Eureka smiled and playfully tried to lean over Renton's side so as to see his embarrassed face. It was always cute to her how he could be so self conscious, even if the reason why eluded her.
As they continued to watch the crowds disperse from the immediate area Mathieu reached down into a green cylindrical bag he had brought with him to the stage. From it out he pulled a shortwave radio that he and the others in the group carried. He flicked on a special channel they had set for their use and spoke into the receiver, "Hey King of Hearts here; Queen, Alice you guys there?"
"Duuude, looks like all hell's breakin' loose up there." Moondoggy exclaimed as he shielded the sun from his eyes and looked up to the top of the canyon wall.
Just a few feet behind him Sumner was helping Ruri stand up after her fall during the lifting race. "Are you going to be alright to move on your own now Ruri?" Sumner asked, still stressed out from Ruri's ordeal.
Ruri clutched her stomach as she stood but was able to stand on her own as Sumner let her go. "Don't worry Sumner… I'm just shaken…" But even as she said this, her own body called her bluff and she vomited once more. But for better or worse she was able to keep the mess in her mouth and was able to swallow it back down. Sumner was about to reach for her again to support her but Ruri waved him off, "…it's … it's alright… that was the last of it I'm sure."
Sumner sighed, thinking of how Ruri would be eventually the death of him. Now trying to find some kind of hope of relief he turned to Moondoggy and asked, "You think we can get out of here by foot?" He asked this in the hope of not risking Ruri another fall.
"Not likely man, less ya really want to walk like five miles to the edge of the canyon, 'n back. Besides…" Moondoggy thumbed over his shoulder towards the top of the canyon. "I don't think we want to head up there without knowin' what's goin' on."
Sumner understood Moondoggy's reasoning but couldn't find it in himself to wait for help, "I get you man but we can't just wait for help, Ruri is…"
"I'm fine damn it!" Ruri yelled at Sumner, now getting annoyed at being coddled.
Suddenly from Moondoggy's side a sharp buzzing sound made everyone flinch. It was quickly followed by Mathieu's voice. "Hey King of Hearts here; Queen, Alice any of you guys there?"
Moondoggy reached down to the radio attached to the side of his belt, "Awesome… Hey King, Alice here; Hatter and The Cat are here with me…"
As Moondoggy listened to Mathieu's response Sumner looked back to Ruri. "Hatter? The Cat? When did this happen?" Sumner asked, confused by the unfamiliar call names, to which all he received was an equally confused expression from Ruri.
Meanwhile, just a stone's throw away the white haired lifter girl that had attacked Ruri during the race was hunkered down in the gutted remains of a ruined building. It had taken only a moment to find the board she had lost, but until the group standing out in the open before her left she couldn't go anywhere herself.
"What are those fools doing? Hurry up and leave!" muttered the girl, as she hugged the ground, making herself as undetectable as possible.
Outside the window, through which she was watching the group, she saw that the blond haired man was talking into a small radio. She continued to watch intently, trying to gauge what they were doing.
While she continued to watch the strangers she reached down to one of her pockets and pulled out what was inside of it. Earlier, after her crash, she had been looking for her refboard, when she had spotted something shiny on the ground. Not being the kind to let an opportunity pass her by she quickly pocketed the item before continuing her search. Now she held the object just before her eyes, while never shifting her gaze away from the people outside.
It turned out what she had taken was a compact drive; a three sided, green, machine interface. While they were common enough, in certain markets they were still quite valuable. "Someone must have dropped it during the races…" she thought to herself as she subconsciously calculated how much money she would receive once she found a buyer for the item.
But a sudden sharp clap of concrete rang out behind her, making her automatically jump and twist in the air so that she instantly went from lying on her belly to sitting up on her back. She held her right arm up, ready to defend herself, but instead of an unwelcome attacker a small Skyfish floated in through a crack in the wall.
She watched as it floated around the small, rubble laden room, twisting in the air as it navigated the minuet traces of trapar that permeated into the interior of the building. Soon it came to stop right in front of her face and began hovering like a bee over a nectar laden flower.
While at first she had enjoyed the creature's company, its current close proximity to her face was not welcome. With a flick of her wrist she concentrated the trapar in the room and sent the Skyfish sailing through the hole in the wall from which it had entered. With the small annoyance out of the way she flipped her body around again to watch on the group outside.
It seemed to her as she watched for the next few moments that the group was setting up to leave as they were all now picking up their refboards and turning their attention to the sky above. This assumption was confirmed just a minute later, much to her relief, as the three of them leapt up onto their boards and soared off into the air. "Well I'm free without any trouble this time…" she thought to herself. "… Now just need to cash this little bobble in…" she continued, pulling out the device again and looking at it.
With the group of adults now gone she stood up and diligently brushed of the dirt from her cloths before stepping out from the ruined building she had taken refuge in. Curious she looked up to the area the adults had gone and saw that a great amount of smoke was rising up from the festival grounds above. She smiled to herself, "Well it looks like this tower has prepared a final showing of hospitality for me…"
The girl was feeling lucky, picking up her procured refboard she shot up into the air, ready to take every advantage she could take from the events above.
As the girl flew off the skyfish from earlier delicately fluttered out from the building and drifted into the area she had stood. It silently landed where she had stood for the briefest of moments and then burst off into the sky like a torrent disappearing into the endless blue sky.
Like a pair of twin thunderclaps the metallic walls of the underground factory tore open and blew forth flames that clung onto the shrapnel as it was cast aside. Before the flames could even grow cold, two bright red LFOs burst forth from the gaping holes left behind by the explosion and landed down on the floor with a large metallic clang.
Besides the unflinching demeanor of the scarlet paint job, the LFOs were heavily modified; only making homage to their Terminus Series heritage through their body shape and head pieces. And where the similarities ended the differences began; the most telling being that the two halves of their ref-boards where mounted along the sides of the control area on the back of the LFO instead of at the hips.
Inside both the LFOs where Dean and Gear, whom quickly surveyed the area they had infiltrated. "All but the emergency lights are out. They must be undermanned today." Gear said over the comm.-system.
Several shots from common machineguns pelted the two standing LFOs. While not enough to damage them, it did get their attention. "Looks like the place is still guarded, better work your magic quick before they bring any more friends to the party." Dean commented with great vigor.
Gear let his custom made sensors and instruments of his LFO do the work of spotting his target. Far on the other side of the massive dark room was a small alcove in the wall that housed the controls for this section of the Undertower. But as the night vision screen focused in on the control room, several large shapes began moving in the darkness. Gear updated Dean, "Seems they won't need to, four enemy KLFs at 11 to 2 o'clock!"
Dean smirked as he pulled down the HUD visor over his head so he could see the enemies his friend spoke of, "You just worry about finding us some loot worth this mess. I'll take care of these sods."
Dean's red LFO spread its arms out and with a quick snap the armor on the machine's forearms both popped up and twisted around to reveal two built in arm cannons that gleamed chrome even in the dark. Dean licked the corner of his lips as he reassured his Gear, "Close combat is my forte after all…"
Bursting out the door of the van with refboard under arm, Emrick quickly looked around for any sign of the others. "If I can find the cause of this mess…" Emrick mumbled to himself, still quite half asleep.
A loud explosion rang out in the distance, drawing Emrick's attention and his mission. Quickly Emrick set off in the direction of the loud sound and found that there where much fewer people out in the markets than before.
In fact there was a complete lack of people, the only company for him being fluttering, loose papers and trash. While he was relieved that he didn't have to deal with navigating a crowd, the huge change in population left him with a chill up his spine.
"HHEEYY! EMRICK!" called out a semi-familiar voice from behind Emrick. He flicked his neck around as he kept running and was surprised to see Abra racing up to catch up with him. Oddly while she ran she kept her arms behind her waist, this caused Emrick to note that the woman may have not found any challenge in catching up with him despite his going all out in his speed.
Waiting for her to get close enough so he wouldn't have to yell Emrick eventually answered back, "You, you're that girl who hit me on the head …Abra?"
Abra smiled, "Well you only remember that? My name and hitting you in the head by "mistake" is all?" She was now caught up with him, and had leveled off her speed to run alongside Emrick. "You have a funny way of remembering things." She commented, still smiling.
"It's kinda hard to forget the lump on the back of my head…" Emrick shot back as he held a hand up to where a small bump that was still present where he had been hit. "But what are you doing here, and where's that grandmother lady?"
Abra continued to smile, "Well actually Emese isn't really my grandmother…" Emrick stared for a moment, not sure what to make of the change of subject. But before he could comment Abra shifted the conversation back to where it had been, "Well speaking of Grandma Emese, she told me I need to deliver you this."
Abra started to slow down as she revealed why her hands had been held behind her back. A small brown paper bag was brought out before Emrick who then quickly slowed, and eventually came to a stop as Abra handed him the bag.
"This ought to help you with any problems you might have been happening to have… you know, strange dreams… due to brain injury and stuff." Abra explained. "Just spread a little of this on your pinky and rub the liquid over your temples about every other week and you should be fine." Abra mimed, showing how to apply the yellow colored liquid.
Emrick opened the bag, inside was a small phial of the glowing substance he had seen the old woman Emese handle the previous night. He looked back up to Abra, "How do you know about my dreams?" he asked.
Abra just looked back at him, smiling yet not saying a word. Another explosion rang out from across the area, pulling Emrick's attention away from Abra for just a moment. The next second when he looked back she was gone, vanished from right before him without a trace.
Looking around for her gave no result and Emrick grumbled to himself, "Where did she…?" He looked down at the bag with the medicine inside. "Whatever…" was all he said before stuffing the bag into his pocket and then returning to his quest.
Just a few yards away from where she and Emrick had just met, Abra was being held down beneath a sales stand by Emese who was covering her red haired companion's mouth.
After the elder woman was sure Emrick had left she removed her hand and got up from behind the kiosk. "Damn it Abra, you just don't know when to stop meddling."
Abra sat up, a smug grin on her face, "I was just delivering the medication like you asked… why are you following me? Thought the whole reason you couldn't do yourself was cuz you were packing for us to leave."
"I was worried you might get to flirty with him and let something slip. And of course here I find you playing with him like that." Emese chided.
Suddenly Abra's face became as serious as Emeses', "You said he was special… even for a Coralian. How can't I be interested in him? And more importantly, at your age why aren't you!"
"Tsk… 'My age' … you have some nerve saying that." Emese shot back.
Abra stood up and put her hand on Emeses' shoulders as they then started walking their way back to the place they had been residing. "We both have a lot of nerve for what we plan for that boy…"
With most of the civilians gone and out of the way, the only reason John and the others continued to fire their weapons was for the main object of their mission; to draw the attention of the tower state military and make them blind to the incursion from below by Dean and Gear.
Already Gear had set it up so that all hard line communication between the festival grounds and the rest of the city would be blocked. With the lack of communications and their constant weapons barrage they hoped to convince the state military that they were dealing with a larger force than what was really there.
A fizzle from the intercom over an appointed channel caught John's attention. Pressing the send button on his console John gave the all clear to use the channel, "Big Chin here; the farmhouse is ablaze, but the hens haven't started falling yet."
Gear's voice sounded over the intercom, "Good work, but the nest was bigger than expected, you may have to stick around till the farmer gets home."
"What! We can't hold this place; we're right out in the open!" John retorted, not liking the idea of staying long enough for a significant force to mobilize against them.
Gear radioed back but for a few seconds the only thing that John could hear where echoing explosions and then heavy static. But soon Gear started talking again, "Dean's got some hens to deal with here, but I think we might have stumbled onto a golden goose, sorry but you gotta hold out for just a bit longer than planned."
The area around the show stage was deserted now, the clamor of the crowd working its way further into the distance. Only Eureka and Renton continued to watch at the stage's edge.
Mathieu meanwhile was pacing back and forth behind them, worried about the others. "Man when are they going to get here? We can't keep sitting out here like sitting ducks." Mathieu said as he raised his arms over his shaking head.
Renton and Eureka turned to look at their friend. "It's just been ten minutes, just give them a bit longer." answered Renton. "And besides we're a good distance off, and the enemies aren't moving this way."
Not liking to show his fear Mathieu slightly puffed out his chest and boasted, "I know, I'm just worried about the other's safety… it's not like I'm freaking out or…"
But before he could finish rescuing his pride Eureka tugged Renton's attention away as she pointed up towards the sky and declared, "Renton look, I think that's them!"
Sure enough three small black dots with slim green tails trailing behind started flowing down from the sky above and soon expanded into their friends, Moondoggy, Sumner and Ruri.
Moondoggy was the first to land followed by Ruri and close behind Sumner. "We flew over on our way here; there's three LFOs tearing up the place over there." reported Moondoggy.
"Well now that we're all together I guess we can get out of here and just wait for the military to take um out, right?" Mathieu asked, desiring nothing else but to leave the area and find Hilda.
"If you want to wait a couple months to get our LFOs out of the local impound lot go right ahead." Ruri blurted out. "As soon the military comes in and cleans this mess the next thing they'll clean out are all the LFOs here. They'd like an opportunity to confiscate mechs from people like us."
"Would they really do that?" Renton asked worriedly.
Sumner responded, "You have to ask?" Renton then nodded his head, remembering much more underhanded things he had seen the military do.
"Then I guess that means we need to get our LFO's out of there quick, huh? Our livelihoods may depend on it." Moondoggy declared to the group, suddenly transforming into his new role as the group's leader. Afterword he looked to his old friend Sumner, "You should get Ruri out of here, we'll take care of this, but Sumner can I borrow you're Compact Drive?"
Sumner smiled in gratitude as he reached for his pocket, "Ha, just try not to get it beat up to much, I've seen you pilot…" Moondoggy frowned at him, but as Sumner reached into his pocket he started feeling around and couldn't find the device. Pulling his pocket out he looked through it only to be met with a hole at the bottom. "Damn it, it must've fallen through my pocket at some point."
"Don't worry about it man I got my Honey's on me, you guys just get clear and we'll handle it." Mathieu said to Sumner and Ruri and then looked over to Renton and Eureka to indicate he meant them to go as well.
But Renton wasn't going too sent off to the sidelines when his friends needed help, "I want to help! I can't let you two go in there by yourselves."
Eureka hugged Renton's arm and looked intensely at both Moondoggy and Mathieu, "You're our family, we won't leave if we can help."
Moondoggy looked the two over. Maybe it was because the Gekkostate and her crew had truly been like an extended family to them all, but he knew it wasn't their fight any more. "Look you guys, we appreciate it, but it isn't your battle and you two got a real family in Belleforest waiting on you. You fought enough; you don't need to worry about us."
Mathieu then added rather bluntly, "And besides, I don't have another compact drive on me for the two of you."
Renton then smirked and reached around his back and pulled out a compact drive from one of his back pockets. "You mean like this one I carry around with me 24/7?"
"Dude you really are a mechanic…" Moondoggy said half laughing and shaking his head. "Well it's not like I could stop you two at this point. Ya'll grab the 606, I'll get Sumner's 505 and Mathieu will grab Hilda's 808." Renton and the others nodded at the plan.
Sumner gave Ruri a little nudge and they both started making their way towards the other side of the park. "We'll grab the truck, after you grab the LFOs just don't worry about the enemies; head straight out of the park and we'll pick you up." And with a wave he and Ruri hurriedly started making their way to the truck.
"Alright guys stay close and stay safe." Moondoggy said as he jumped down from the stage. And with that the others, Eureka, Mathieu and Renton jumped down as well and started quickly making their way through the trash covered grounds of the festival.
"I'll take this… and, oh this!" exclaimed the white haired thief, as she grabbed up merchandise left behind by evacuating merchants.
If things had been looking bad for her earlier that day she didn't remember anymore, all she could think about was how much could stuff into the new circle shaped satchels that she now had hanging on both hips.
"Some new clothing… money and sellable items, this is excellent, I don't think I could have asked for a better contribution!" The girl thought as she tallied up the items in her pack.
But then she looked onto a new stand that she came up to as she ran down the rows of stands and nearly squealed, "Oh, my gosh… my absolute fave!"She then stopped and looked around to make sure nobody saw her, more so than she had at any other stand. And then when she was sure nobody was around she quickly pulled up one of her bags and placed it at the end of the table and started stuffing different assortments of candy into her pack. "I'll always have room for you my friends!" She lovingly pined to the items flowing into her pack.
But then the 'pat pat' of footsteps on pavement made her quickly switch back into a serious mood. Before anyone could blink she had dropped down to her knees so that only her red eyes and pale forehead peeked over the candy stand.
Just a few rows down from the girl Emrick was racing by, from her left to right, his rather long dark blue hair streaming behind him. The girl looked on as Emrick ran by wondering to herself, "Have I seen that boy before?"
Reaching up to the top of the counter she grabbed a candy wrapper and opened it before quickly taking a bite. "Naw, *munch*, probably just another commoner or with that hair a performer of some sort…*munch*"
She continued to watch the boy as he continued running towards the explosions being created by three close-by mechs. Suddenly she saw under the boy's left arm the long refboard she had tried to steal the previous night and it came to her. "That's the boy I had to take the fall for me! What is he doing now?"
She looked around, down at her pack and then back up to Emrick, whom was getting further away. Gritting her teeth and swiftly sweeping one last load of candy into her pack the girl grumbled to herself as she started after Emrick, "Well, let's see what my 'knight' is up to."
Blistering hot, the arm cannons on Dean's LFO twisted around back into their normal positions at the shoulder. Around him the scrapped remains of the fallen enemies smoldering with black smoke rising into an even deeper black room.
Inside his cockpit Dean leaned his head and muttered, "All honor for the fallen…" He then jerked up his head, back into his usual mood. "Well Gear these guys aren't movin' anymore, so are we leavin' any time soon?"
Gear appeared on the comm. screen, beads of sweat rolling down his forehead, "Chew a fork! This encryption is a damned nightmare. If I draw too much power a subsystem will alert the topside to us."
"Ahh, just let me get down there…" Dean groaned as he swiveled through the charred forms of the destroyed LFOs around him. Once up to the side of the room, near the computer where Gear was working, Dean jumped out of his LFO and hurried over to his friend. "So what's the hold up?"
Gear glanced briefly at his impatient friend and explained as he continued working, "From what I've already been able to access this facility isn't unique; there are more under other Towers, but which ones I can't tell."
"Well that's great and all… but we need to get out of here SOON, and with some big loot, or we're gonna look like idiots back home!" Dean practically yelled into Gear's ear. As Gear pulled his head back and covered his hurt ear a dark form slowly skidded across the floor from one of the wreaked mechs across the way.
After the ringing was half gone from his ear Gear looked at Dean angrily, "I don't think you get it man. These aren't regular factories; and I think they may be connected." He then pointed at the computer screen. "Look! There is regular communication from this factory to several others!"
"So? The military is always trying to keep its facilities in check." Said Dean, not surprised.
Gear shifted his hand down slightly on the screen, "Yea well what do you make of this?" Dean leaned in and looked; under Gear's finger was an address letter that held no name but was signed with the seal of an old royal family. Dean looked back up to Gear, so he could explain; "The tower lords don't hold any station in the military anymore since the war 150 years ago. If this facility and others like it are a creation of them…"
But before he could finish a deafening clang burst forth from the other side of the room and a blinding light shot out strait into the eyes to the two men. As he shielded his eyes Dean called out to his equally blinded friend Gear, "Wha… what the hell is going on?"
"How should I know? I didn't do anything." Gear lowered his face down and nearly hit it into the computer screen as he tried to figure out what had happened.
Meanwhile Dean scanned the area. As his eyes got used to the light he realized what looked like the largest set of hanger doors he had ever seen opening before him and letting in the light that had blinded them.
As the door's opening expanded light flew out like a fan in all directions showing the grizzly scene of Dean's earlier battle that had been hidden in the darkness. Once his eyes had gotten adjusted enough Dean noticed a trail of blood trailing along the floor from one of the downed KLFs and up against the wall was the form of a dead man, clothing torn asunder and hand firmly holding down a switch that was running along the wall.
"Damn, one of them did something!" said Dean to Gear as he pointed towards the now completely dead saboteur.
Gear was working the computer keyboard at a fevered pace, "I know, I know… damn too much power was used, they know we're here."
"So I guess it's time to go!" asked Dean, a half worried grin crossing his face.
But Gear was to intently looking at the screen now to hear him. The screen was covered in flashing red lights and alarms, but suddenly a large window opened up over the rest of the deep red warnings to show a large blueprint like outline of the facility's structure. For a moment Dean and Gear looked at the screen as code began running across the window. And quickly their eyes widened as they watched the outline of the facility suddenly start to break off from the ground around it.
Gear said with an awestruck voice, "It's a self destruct! Get to your LFO; I'll bring up the prize, we're not leaving this place empty handed! Tell the guys to bail ASAP and head our way!"
Understanding the urgency in his friend's voice Dean quickly bowed his head and followed Gears commands, heading to his LFO with all speed. As he did he noted in his head, "Did he say 'prize'… as in the singular sense?"
Franticly finishing his work Gear mumbled to himself, "How can they have set this up without anyone noticing?" And with a final punch of the enter button a sudden lurch of the ground gave confirmation his work was complete.
He grabbed his equipment and started for his own LFO, once he was about half way he began to feel the steel floor under him began to move and open up to the massive elevator below their feet.
Setting off another volley of gun fire at the ground surrounding him and the Twins, John was becoming more and more concerned as to why Gear had told them to keep up this charade for so long. He was beside himself; wondering if it would be prudent to disobey Dean and Gear and get himself and the Twins out of harm's way.
A beeping sound from the LFO's console pulled him out of his mind and up to a video feed from the eldest of the twins. "Chin-man, are we getting out of here any time soon?"
"Dean and Gear are almost done, get set to move out!" John answered while stretching the truth about the other's predicament.
While John was sending this message outside his LFO's hull a dull thumping sound could be heard as someone climbed up the side of the machine's leg. Still not confident in his skill to use the refboard he had procured Emrick was trying his best to get to the top of his LFO and take the thief by surprise. Emrick worked fast and reached the edge of the LFO's back before shimming himself up on top of it with great effort as he had to hold his ref-board with one of his hands.
Lying on his belly as he caught his breath he spied the cockpit of his stolen LFO. Emrick pushed himself up onto his feet and charged; swinging his right foot back and smashing it into the side of the cockpit as he came within range.
Meanwhile the white haired girl was watching him from a relative safe distance, behind a pile of broken up stalls and trash. Peaking around the edge of the pile she commented to herself about Emrick's efforts, "Not very intelligent, is he?"
For John, inside the LFO, he only noticed the attacker coming at him as left side of the HUD display in the cockpit busted and blanked out. After flinching briefly John turned to look for what had caused the damage and found the left side of the cockpit was cracked.
"What the bloody…" John cursed as he reached over and turned the cockpit to invisible mode. And as he did he was met with another smack into the side of his cockpit as a shoe once again kicked heel first into it. This time he was able to see the young indigo haired boy that was assaulting his window.
"What in the… get the hell out of here kid!" John yelled through the thankfully tough glass canopy. He grabbed the controls and maneuvered the LFO's right arm over and swung down at the boy, barely missing hitting himself in the control seat at the same time.
Emrick saw the attack coming and jumped away and watched as the LFO's arm quickly made ready to sweep down upon him again. Seeing his 'strategy' wasn't working Emrick reached around and tossed his refboard off the side of the LFO and quickly dived off after it, narrowly escaping the returning fist of the LFO.
John watched as the boy mounted the refboard and took off into the air above and he instantly recognized the blue trapar trail gleaming behind in the wake of the boy's movements. "That's the bastard who stole the boss' board!"
John reached over and radioed the Twins, "Hey, the guy from last night is here, get over here and help me catch the sod!"
"What the guy who dropped brother?" asked the younger brother, Needle over the comm.
John replied. "Yea; get over here and we'll surround him." John shook his head as he kept trying to knock Emrick out of the air with the LFO's arms. "Just get over here before he bolts again!"
As the pair of derelict LFOs turned and started off in the opposite direction from them Moondoggy gave a sigh of relief. "Man I thought those guys had spotted us for sure when they started turnin'."
"Now we should be able to get to your LFOs, correct?"asked Eureka as she and Renton stood up from their hiding spot.
"Looks like it, Eureka." replied Renton as he raised a hand up to shield his eyes from the sun. "Wonder what made them move off so suddenly?"
Mathieu ran a hand through his hair, "They might have seen the military coming in… man this is bad."
"Come on guys if the military is coming in we need to move." Moondoggy responded as he waved his arm to motion the troop forward.
"Damn this kid, he's figured out the boss' board!" barked John as he continued to reach for the flying Emrick to no avail.
A beeping sound from the consol again told him he was getting another message. While continuing to attack Emrick with one hand he reached down with the other and flicked on the comm. channel. "What is it? I need help here!"
"Help? Are ya'll still hanging up their?" came Dean's aloof voice over the radio. "Gear's got us getting out of here in just a bit. Bail out of their and meet us over the edge. And move, we… ah, Gear started up some kind of failsafe that's… well it's gonna kinda change the landscape, permanent like."
John didn't understand, "Failsafe… what?"
For some reason the attacks from the man who had stolen his LFO were suddenly becoming less direct and were only be commenced with the LFO's right arm. While Emrick was thankful for this he heard the other two LFOs coming from across the way in his direction.
Feeling an anger growing in his chest Emrick turned away from his own LFO and charged at the other attackers.
"Is someone lifting up there?" Renton asked as he continued to run along with the rest of the group and holding his hand up against the sun's glare.
Everyone else also pulled up a hand or two to their brow and tried to see what Renton was seeing. "I don't see anything…" Moondoggy started but a yell in the far off distance cut him off.
As the group continued to run, Eureka spotted something, "There, a blue trapar trail; it's hard to see against the sky."
"Blue?" Renton asked out loud to himself. "Oh, man that's Emrick! What's he doing?" he asked as Emrick continued to race towards the two LFOs.
With held breath they watched something spectacular; as Emrick came within the LFOs' reach he grabbed his refboard with the left hand and literally yanked himself up over the LFOs' heads where he lost all velocity and literally hung in the air motionless.
The Twins where still charging at full speed in their LFOs, but they failed to compensate for their target flying up above them so suddenly. Despite this they extended their arms into the air and tried to grasp Emrick, but Emrick pulled his ref-board out from under himself and planted his free hand down on the tip of one of the fingers that where so desperately trying to reach him.
For a moment the three of them hung in the air, the two LFOs and the comparably minuscule Emrick, with his board and feet hanging over his head. Soon gravity returned to three airborne persons and while Emrick remounted his board and took off higher into the sky the Twin's LFOs went flying forward.
Inside his cockpit John was listening to Dean explain what was being done to facility and the earth below. "What! That's crazy, sir! How the hell could they do that!" John yelled into the mike as Dean finished.
"I know, I know, we'll figure it out later, just call Sky and Needle back an…" Dean started to respond but John became distracted by a sudden shadow over his eyes and forgot what else Dean had to say.
Barely having enough time to react with widening eyes and a shocked yell John and the LFO housing him where thrown back and to the ground as the Twins, losing their balance as they had reached for Emrick, came crashing down into him.
High above Emrick watched as the two LFOs he had charged clumsily crashed into his own stolen LFO. With a burst of dust, broken up wood and trash the three LFOs piled on top of one another below him.
With a degree of satisfaction growing in his chest Emrick kidded himself, "Kind of wish I planned for that to happen..."
As he continued to stare down and wait for the dust to settle Emrick heard a familiar voice call to him from below. "…emrick… Emrick… HEY EMRICK!"
Turning his head Emrick witnessed Eureka, Renton, Mathieu and Moondoggy run towards him through the broken remains of the festival. Once they saw that he saw them they stopped and began to wave their arms, signaling for him to come down. They watched as Emrick waved back and started down in a wide spiral down. After a couple quick turns he was almost on their level and heading their way for the final landing.
"Looks like he's alright." Eureka said thankfully as they moved aside for Emrick to land.
Moondoggy shook his head, "He's lucky those LFO pilots weren't paying attention to where their pal was." Moondoggy then turned to Renton, "And since when could he lift?"
Renton looked to Moondoggy from Emrick's descending spiral. "Well… since last night I guess…"
"Last night? How can he manage to even stay on the board?" Moondoggy exclaimed, surprised and slightly annoyed at Emrick's apparent natural ability.
Renton shrugged and pointed up to Emrick, "Just ask him when he comes down, look he's just about here." Everyone returned their sight to Emrick whom was now just above the tops of the remaining stands and stalls around them.
Eureka turned her head to the side slightly, "He seems to be coming in a little fast."
Moondoggy's eyes flicked to Eureka as she finished her comment and then to Renton, "Hey does he know how to land right?"
Renton looked back at Moondoggy, "Uh… I think… I mean I kinda helped him last time…" They all looked at Emrick, who was defiantly coming in to fast to land properly. "Oh, shoot!" Renton yelled as he grabbed Eureka and pulled her along as he Mathieu and Moondoggy jumped out of the way.
Emrick came in like the wind; he tried to pull his board up to lose speed but the lack of trapars this close to the ground made the move ineffective. The back end of the board touched the ground first. It lost speed before the rest of the board causing the front end to come down fast and the back end to come back up into the air. This lead to Emrick being sent sailing forward through the air, detached from the board that was now bouncing around on the ground behind him.
Emrick reacted quickly and curled into a ball and twisted in the air so that his back was what landed first and took most of the damage for the rest of him. He skidded along the ground and came to a stop just before hitting an untouched sales stand.
"Ouch…" was all Emrick said after a few seconds of mental recovery. With a grunt he opened his eyes and rolled off his road burned arm. When he did so his good arm knocked into the stall and shook something off the top of it.
Seeing the object coming straight for his face Emrick rolled again, over his hurt arm, to safety. By the time the object hit the ground he was standing on one foot and one knee. The object that smashed into the ground where his face had rested a moment ago was a snow globe and many others like it still sat atop the stand.
"Emrick!" yelled Eureka and Renton alike. Both of them put their hands on Emrick's shoulders, surprising him slightly. "Are you OK? What the hell where you doing up there?" Renton asked.
Eureka added, "Oh, Emrick your arm, you're bleeding."
Emrick was overloaded by their questions but kept his cool. Looking to his arm he could see several scrapes cut across his right arm in the shoulder area. While bleeding a bit he didn't think it would affect his health. "I'm fine… don't worry… Eureka." Emrick said to Eureka before giving her another oversized toothy grin, trying to be sociable.
Standing up to give Emrick space to stand Renton asked again, "Emrick what are you doing out here?"
Emrick, back to his emotionally distant face, stood and eyed around for his board. "I'm here to quiet things down." Then spotting his board he made a bee line for it.
Moondoggy was confused, "Annnd you planned to do that how…?"
"Killing them I think…" Emrick answered calmly as he picked up his board and began inspecting it for significant damage.
"'Killing them'?" Renton repeated. "We don't have to kill them Emrick, we just need to get our LFOs and leave."
Seeing no clear sign of permanent damage to his board to Emrick's novice eyes he replied. "But wouldn't that be harder? ...and require more work?"
"Well we can't…" Renton tried to start to explain, but realized that there wasn't enough time so he broke off and instead explained to Emrick. "Look we just need to grab our LFOs from here and we won't even have to bother with those guys, the military can take care of it."
Finally turning his gaze to those he was speaking to, Emrick explained back, rather sternly, "One of them has got my LFO, I can't leave it."
"Since when did you care about that thing? Only seen you touch it once." Moondoggy stated, rather annoyed at what Emrick was suggesting.
Emrick shrugged and gave a face that showed to some degree he was annoyed by the fact as well, "I don't know… just cuz I think…"
Everyone stared at Emrick, wondering if he was being protective of his LFO, spiteful for someone taking it or if he was just not thinking clearly.
Before anyone could ask what he had meant a loud pair of voices exclaimed their anger from the heap of twisted steel Emrick had left behind. "Where the hell are you… you… you jackass!" It was the Twins; after recovering and working their way off John's LFO they were ready to reclaim their pride.
Emrick began to start readying himself to mount his board again, but Renton was quick and stopped him. Looking into Emrick's eyes Renton could tell that for whatever reason, to Emrick it was imperative to reclaim his LFO. So instead of telling him back down like he had first planned his advised, "Just keep them off us. We'll jump into our LFOs and help you get your LFO back, I promise."
Emrick nodded, and a flicker of thanks burnt in the rounds of his eyes as Renton released him. Quickly he got up his speed and jumped on the board, leaving the others behind. Quickly they too broke up; Moondoggy and Mathieu going on their own ways while Renton and Eureka went together their own way to the different LFOs.
Popping up from a kneeling position, both of Dean and Gear's LFOs stood at attention. Below their feet the floor was quickly opening up. At the same time a wall of massive shutters clicked back revealing the open sky outside.
Dean called Gear over the comm., "Ok Gear, what's with the floor, and when are we getting' out of here? We don't know how long we have till that failsafe kicks in." As he spoke he looked down into the dark area being exposed as the floor opened up below.
"There's hangers like this one going down the cliffside, I got our ride coming up from the basement level." Gear explained back as he drove his LFO to the edge of the gap in the floor. "We'll need to get inside to pilot this thing. Come on lets jump down!"
Dean brought up his own craft to the mouth of the darkness below. "Damn man, this better be worth it. We were just sent to steal some weapons after all." Gear didn't respond, but instead lead the way, jumping into the inky blackness below. "Tsk… why is he leading this mission all of a'sudden?" complained Dean to himself.
Down below Gear slowed his decent with several blasts from the LFO's afterburners. After awhile his sensors told him he was coming up on a hard surface below. With a final flare of burning jet fuel he landed on the curved edge of what they had been seeking.
With a loud clap of steal on steal Dean suddenly burst from the shadows above and landed hard on the now dented surface. Flicking on his night-vision Gear looked over to Dean's position and yelled, "We don't need to break it you idiot!"
Dean flicked on his night-vision and turned back, "Yea, sorry about that, burn out most of my fuel in the fight earlier."
Gear sighed, "Whatever…" Now flicking his eyes around the greened out, inferred environment that surrounded them he spotted a large, almost rectangular block of steel jutting up from the metallic floor below them. On the side facing them the steel block had a doorway just wide and tall enough for a LFO to pass through in vehicle mode, and was long enough to house three of the machines comfortably in a row. Switching to his LFO's vehicle mode Gear commanded his leader, "In here, this is our way in!"
Dean followed suit, transforming his LFO to vehicle mode as well and carefully parking the vehicle in the small cave like opening. "Gear what are we doing, this is a dead end?"
Dean waited, listening over the still open comm. for Gear's response, but was only met with some muffled tapping of a keyboard. "Damn it Gear answer me!"
"Alright done!" Gear suddenly exclaimed with tangible relief in his voice.
Dean was about to start yelling for him to explain again when the lights in the small cave like room suddenly flicked on and a lurch of the floor gave Dean a sense of vertigo. Gear was already out of his LFO and was making his way to the back wall of the cave when Dean noticed something else; the walls of the cave were moving. Looking back he saw now that the cave was sinking into the floor. "Another elevator…?" Dean asked himself.
Gear waved his arms over his head to get ahold of Dean's vanishing attention and called out, "Dean drop your LFO for now, you need to check this out!"
Turning off the main power to his LFO and pocketing his compact drive Dean jumped out from his machine and caught up to Gear. Just as he met up with his friend the elevator they were on reached the room below. It was a huge hanger, the size and length of it was so great that there was still space to store several more LFOs alongside the twelve others that were already being housed there. Despite the ceiling still only being just tall enough for the LFOs to move around in vehicle mode it was still an impressive site.
Dean didn't know what to ask anymore, he was so tired, yet still so exhilarated that he just wanted to sit and catch himself. Looking over to Gear exhaustedly Dean waited for an explanation. To which Gear finally obliged, just as the elevator touched down and locking into the hanger floor. "We got ourselves one badass ship!" He said, smiling; he then pointed across the room and started jogging ahead towards it.
Dean quickly caught up, "A ship…? We already have a ship! We don't have time to steal a ship! And besides a ship is easier for the military to track!" pointing out everything drastically obvious.
"Calm down man, we're already in the ship anyway." Gear responded sternly, and then waved a pointer finger around to indicate their immediate environment. "This is the primary hanger, there's one almost just as big just below us."
Dean's brow furrowed, "No ship's that huge! Unless you think we're stealing a Flying Tower, I think you've lost it man."
The two men made it to the back wall of the hanger; there a door was all that stopped them from continuing to run. "You didn't look at the specs for this thing man. It's meant to replace the current airships like the car replaced a horse and buggy thousands of years ago."
"I hope you aren't full of hot air man… well how are we going to get this huge thing to fly anyway?" Dean replied, resigning himself to the fate his friend had chosen for them.
Gear pressed a button on the wall and triggered the door to open revealing a room full of flashing lights and consoles. "We don't have time to make it over to the bridge, but I can get her airborne from here."
They both entered the room and Gear sat down on a rickety metal chair that had been left there and began working. Dean looked around and noticed that many panels along the walls and on the sides on consoles where open with wiring streaming from them like unkempt hair. "So this thing is a prototype, I take it?"
Gear was reading the computer gibberish on the screen before him and though he did hear Dean's question he was too deeply focused on his work and only answered with a quick, "Yea…"
Looking back over the miles of wire covering the floor and walls Dean smiled nervously and asked, "… so this thing is finished being built… right?" Not listening anymore Gear just shrugged and continued working.
Dean's face turned twenty years older seeing that; slowly he started his way out of the room so as to not bother the only hope he had of living. "Screw my life …" he mumbled under his breath as he left the room.
Dazed and disorientated John stared blankly into the hole in the side of his LFO's cockpit. The crash into the ground from the Twins landing on top of him had destroyed the part of the canopy that had been weakened from Emrick's attack.
As John's mind processed this information and his muscles worked their way out of shock a shadow suddenly appeared and loomed over him. His blurred vision only allowed him to follow the figure as it reached through the cracked canopy and pull the release leaver, opening the whole of the canopy to the sky.
"Ah, thank you, thank you, you angel of heaven." The words echoed in John's mind as the figure now reached down to embrace him…
And with a tomboyish grunt of effort the white haired girl grasped the large unconscious man's free arm and half dragged, half tossed him out of the LFO and onto the ground.
Clapping the dust from her hands she congratulated herself, "Well that was some effort on my part for sure. Now I think it is time reap my reward." She then looked over her new prize; while slightly damaged she knew of a place called a 'chop shop' that would pay big bucks for this LFO just for its scrap value.
Picking up the bags of equally earned rewards from the sales stalls she tossed them into the small area in between the seat and the sides of the cockpit.
Knowing just enough to get by with piloting one of the machines she confidently jumped into the pilot's seat of the LFO and turned the ignition. When the LFO failed to respond she exclaimed, "Drat, what could it be?"
Looking over to her right she spied the LFO's compact drive. It had shattered; probably, she thought from when the man that had owned it before her had been shaken like a ragdoll when the LFO fell. Taking the broken compact out and angrily tossing it over her shoulder she started thinking of what she could do.
As she did this John was once again regaining his mind's composer and quickly spat out the dirt that had collected in the corner of his mouth. The last thing he remembered was a dark shadow reaching down to save him; but now he found himself face down in the dirt.
As he started to lift himself from the ground John remembered what Dean had told him just before the crash; the scub below them was had been rigged to break apart and fall down to the planet Earth below. Standing now on all fours and getting ready to pull himself to his feet John thought to himself, "I've got to warn everybody!"
But just as the thought crossed his mind a sharp thud came to his ears, telling him he was once again collapsing into the ground. The compact drive the girl had thrown over her shoulder from the cockpit had hit him hard on the top of his already bruised head and had knocked him out again.
All this drama completely unknown to her the girl popped a fist into her open palm, signifying she had an idea. "Of, course!" she exclaimed to herself happily before reaching into her pocket and drawing out the compact drive she had found at the bottom of the race track when she had been hiding out.
"Now I can make my escape!" she said as she looked the drive over thankfully. She then promptly took the drive off of its base and placed into the compact drive port of the LFO.
"Come on bro, stop getting in the way!" yelled Sky. They had quickly spotted Emrick as he had lifted off into the air to meet their challenge and ever since their eyes have been intensely focused on the elusive boy.
Unfortunately this hot blooded focus broke their ability to watch out for each other's movements. As they once again both reached up with their LFOs to snatch Emrick from the sky, only to have each other's arms knock each other from their intended target Needle replied, "You stop bro! He's just playing around with us now!"
Meanwhile Emrick continued to zigzag about the sky, distracting the twins as the others made their way to the abandoned LFOs still strewn about the area. Looking down to check on his companion's progress he could see that they were all now just yards away from their machines. "Well looks like things will be finished soon…" Emrick said to himself, despite the words being lost in the swirling winds before they even reached his own ears.
"I've got you!" boasted one of the twins. Emrick looked back to the area just below him and found one of the enemy LFOs had decided to again use its boosters and start flying right towards him with metallic hand outstretched.
Instead of simply dodging the clumsy attack Emrick turned the ref-board's nose down and dived toward the attacker's torso. Then at the last second, when he would have run into the LFO's side, he shifted his weight and skidded on the trapar waves sideways, narrowly missing the LFO.
Emrick fumbled and almost fell, but balanced out before it became an issue. "This lifting stuff is harder than it looks… need to be more careful." Emrick commented to himself as he looked back and watched as the LFO he dodged fall back down to the ground, landing on its two feet.
Suddenly a set of loud crashing sounds drew his attention away from the attackers. He quickly realized that the noise was being made as Moondoggy, Mathieu, Eureka and Renton transformed their LFOs into humanoid mode, brushing away the junk and refuse that had been covering them from the earlier antics of the enemy.
Before the twins even took notice the three LFOs burst up from the ground and grappled onto the unaware enemies. "Crap!" yelled both the twins obviously surprised.
Needle, who was held only by Moondoggy in Sumner's 505 reacted quicker, twisting his LFO around and setting of a short boost of his boosters to escape capture. "Broooo!" yelled the boy as he raced toward his pinned brother.
Eureka and Renton, sitting in the front seat of the 606's long nosed cockpit turned from the older brother, leaving Mathieu to hold down the opponent in Hilda's 808. "Eureka, you ready!" called Renton to his partner.
"Always, Renton!" yelled back Eureka as the wheels of their borrowed LFO began to spin. And with that they sped off right into the enemy's path.
From high above Emrick continued to watch as the two LFOs met and with a crash of steel on steel, with sparks flying off all around. Emrick was amazed; though to him the LFOs looked like they should be an even match for each other he could tell Eureka and Renton possessed a far greater mastery of the LFO's movements than their opponent.
This was most apparent as the 606 artfully blocked a right hook from the twin with its own right hand and then turned its left arm under its right and blew away the enemy's left forearm with a blast from the small hand cannon attached to the 606's left arm. After that the enemy was taken aback by the loss of its appendage and the 606 spun around and swept its right leg under the opponent and tripped it over onto its side. After that the 606 followed through whit its momentum and drew back from the downed enemy, but not without its hand cannon steadily watching the opponent.
"Wow… they're good…" Emrick said to himself, realizing that it was the usually calm and friendly Eureka and Renton whom where laying down the pain unto the poor young man below.
"Brother!" yelled Sky as he watched his sibling go down. He reset his LFO to vehicle mode and turned his boosters onto full blast.
Mathieu who was holding him from behind suddenly found himself being dragged along the ground, the tail pipes of the captured LFO blasting Hilda's LFO in the face with after-burn flames. "Ah, damn it!" Mathieu yelped as he let go of the fleeing enemy. As this happened, Eureka, Renton and the recovering Moondoggy where distracted, allowing for the younger, injured brother to escape encirclement.
As the brothers flew towards each other to regroup Emrick's attention was redirected to his LFO. All the action below had shielded the sounds of its revival from the earlier crash and it was just by mere chance that Emrick noticed its escape from the corner of his eye.
Looking down to his friends who were busy with the reunited twins he determined it was going to be his job to recover his own LFO. Without thinking Emrick found himself smiling to himself despite the huge effort he was putting in to everything just not fall to his death. The wind rushed through his long indigo hair and Emrick continued smiling, though he had no clue as to why and for some reason he couldn't stop himself. "What is this feeling?" he thought as he turned his board towards the fleeing LFO. "I feel so annoyed but also… happy? …excited?"
Spitting up even more dust than the last time John once again woke up from his trauma induced slumber. After a few seconds of recollection he quickly put a meaty hand up over his bald head, to protect it from further attack. He then looked around; trying to grasp how much time had passed.
But then a particular sensation began to tickle the hairs on his chin as it sat just an inch above the ground. Lifting himself up on his one free hand he could now feel the subtle vibrations in the ground under him. "God damn, it's starting!" he cursed under his breath as he quickly jumped up onto his feet.
With a quick glance around himself he saw his procured LFO was gone, probably taken by the person who had assaulted him when he was down, he figured. In the distance he could see a fight brewing up just a couple hundred yards away. He instantly knew the Twins where most likely a part of the scuffle, and without a second thought he raced towards the fray. "I can't believe this; the whole area is going to fall! …Friend or foe, we have to get out of here now!"
Author Note: Sorry this chapter took so long to be finish. Please visit my account page if you desire to have a quick promo for the next chapter!