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GetMeOffTheMoonRockman PMTRRL
Fan Fiction by Dashe
Press Start to Continue - Chapter 7: More Distractions

Chapter 7: More Distractions. Chapter image depicts Grill standing next to his beat-up red motorhorse. It's like a motorcycle hovercraft. He's got his goggles on top of his head this time, revealing small, beady eyes.

When Teisel came back in the early hours of the morning, he didn't expect to find Max asleep on the couch with a large, wooden console resting near the nook between the side table and the couch where he'd been keeping Tron's book. That had to be Aero's old spotting equipment. The library books they'd borrowed were stacked neatly on top of the console, and Max had similarly arranged his suit on the coffee table with the machine gun he'd bought loaded and ready to go.

Although he was incredibly tired, it felt wrong to just steal Max's bed, even if Max happened to be the one directly preventing him from turning in for the night. They'd only known each other for what, a month? Two months? Teisel had a hard time keeping track of the days. The earlier ones especially seemed to blend into each other. He gently shook Max's forearm to wake him up.

Max practically leaped off the couch, causing Teisel to recoil and almost trip over his suit. "Ack! I can't believe I fell asleep!" He exclaimed as quietly as he could while he glanced around the room to make sure they were alone. "We're lucky it's just you, T-Bonne. We've gotta get this stuff back to my room before Aero wakes up. She'd throw a fit if she found out I stole her stuff."

It took a few moments for Teisel to steady himself and process all of that. He fought the urge to flip out about the insanely high probability that Pic, Grill or Aero might have woken up in the middle of the night to use the common room and just nodded, his mouth clenched shut as tightly as it would go.

The two of them transferred the equipment without saying anything other than a brief goodnight once the task was through.

Since Pic typically made it a point to head into town before dawn like Aero, Teisel thought he'd be able to just snooze until Grill left. Normally Grill was out by nine at the latest. He worked in a motorhorse garage during the week, and he was the only member of the Bright Bats who had anything resembling a stable day job, so Teisel and Max figured he wouldn't be too difficult to work around.

Unfortunately, that day wasn't exactly normal. "Hey, Teisel," Grill whispered, prodding him gently in the shoulder under the assumption that he was still asleep. "Are you just going to sleep all day? I want to watch some TV."

Teisel blinked a few times and tried to make it look like he'd just woken up. "Yeah, go ahead..." he mumbled as he pulled himself into a sitting position, wondering what was going on and why Grill wasn't at work like he was supposed to be.

"Thanks." The mechanic replied with a nod as he flipped on some golf. After a few awkward moments, he followed up with, "You okay there? You seemed like you were doing really well earlier in the week, but now you're running off and staying out late and you're back to sleeping past noon. It was kind of weird, seeing you more alert, actually. It was nice, but still weird. Did something happen?"

Teisel just stared blankly at him. How was he supposed to explain that the only reason he'd "slept" as late as he did was because he was waiting for Grill to leave for work so he could sneak out with Max to go into a dangerous unmarked ruin entrance and raise 50,000 zenny because their oh-so-competent leader spontaneously decided he'd like to be in debt to a black market information dealer, all as part of some crazy scheme to find some magic trinket the way he used to back when he still had his family with him? Why wasn't Grill at work, anyway?

He ran a hand through his hair as he racked his mind for a socially acceptable response. "I'm, uh..." He cursed the years that had eroded his bluffing skills. "Well, it's probably none of my business, but I used to be really reckless with managing money too and, I, uh, I think Max has a credit card...issue..." He trailed off. Teisel actually still had a hard time grasping the nuances of the financial world, but he'd never just take out a big loan like that without a backup plan again. Working off that kind of debt wasn't worth the hassle. "...He's paying off all of those charges he makes, right?"

Grill just stared at Teisel, trying to determine what, exactly, was going on in that man's head. "Yeah, he definitely has a problem with spending money he doesn't actually have. Sometimes I lend him refractor shards myself, but I never expect it back or anything. That's just Max for you. I'm not sure why you're worrying about how he's paying it, though. You should probably be trying to take it easy."

"It's a long story," Teisel brushed that misadventure off before Grill could probe any further.

The mechanic felt bad that he hadn't been around enough to really get to know Teisel, especially since he'd been the one to take care of him right when he woke up. Back when he was barely responsive to most attempts at conversation. "Say, have you ever been on a motorhorse?" He asked.

Teisel shook his head.

"If you really used to be a pirate like Max said you were, then you'd probably be pretty good at it! Get dressed and I'll treat you to lunch and take you up to the shop!" He exclaimed. "Trust me, you're gonna love this!"

"I beg your pardon?" Teisel deadpanned.

Grill smiled and hopped up from the couch and extended a hand to help Teisel up as well. "Don't worry, I wouldn't take you back to Johnny's or anything. Not after what Max told me, anyway. There are plenty of good places to eat in Teomo. Your sister never wrote about Smokin' Plasma BBQ, did she?"

Teisel took Grill's hand and silently shook his head as he pulled himself to his feet. He couldn't shake the feeling that all of these handouts would eventually come back to haunt him later, but as he'd learned, it usually wasn't a good idea to turn down any food from the Bright Bats. Grill especially seemed to have a strong nurturing side to him. "You, uh, might want to steer away from tacos for a while, though." Teisel self-consciously added. "Especially tacos from any kind of hole-in-the-wall establishment."

Grill briefly debated asking what kind of a book would include such detailed descriptions of restaurants, but he shook off the urge and just said, "Noted."

As soon as Grill disappeared into his room, Teisel knocked on Max's door. "Max! Hey Max, it's me!" He hissed through the door, hoping Max would hear him and Grill wouldn't.

The leader of the gang ambled over and opened the door a crack. "Did he leave yet?" He whispered.

Teisel shook his head. "Change of plans. Again." He replied, hoping his neuroses weren't shining through brighter than the Malt Island lighthouse. "Grill wants to take me to lunch and drag me onto a motorhorse. Think you could bring my suit and the equipment to the gate at the edge of Teomo and wait for me? It seems to be the only way we'll be able to get him out of the house."

"Why isn't he at work?" Max groaned.

"I've been asking myself that all morning."

Max glanced back at the pile of books and spotting equipment. He had a battery, a small satellite, and a pair of monitors he'd kept in his room that he'd have to bring, along with the box from the night before. It would be a lot to have to drag across town. "Ah, screw it. I'll see what I can do to get this junk where it needs to go. You have fun out there, okay?"

Teisel gave Max a curt nod. "I'll try."

"Try not to freak out or anything."

"...Right." Teisel uttered after an uncomfortable conversational lull. "I'd better get going. Contrary to popular belief, this hair doesn't spike itself."

If Max had an eye for fashion, then Grill had a serious knack for finding the best restaurants in town. Smokin' Plasma made the best ribs Teisel'd had in a very long time. "Their pork buns are good too," he explained as they headed into the garage where Grill usually worked. "I usually pick up about six or so during my break at work. Today my boss has a conference over on Garrdan Island, so the place should be empty. She said I could have the day off, but Max and Aero and I have a motorhorse we usually keep in here for ourselves."

He walked over to an old red motorhorse close to the entrance and flipped through his key ring. He pulled off a compact-looking key and tossed it underhand to Teisel, who fumbled to catch it, clapping both hands around the key and trapping it just before it could slip out of his reach and clatter to the ground. If Grill noticed the clumsy spectacle at all, he was too busy lifting the garage door open to say anything about it.

"So, uh," Teisel regarded the machine's controls, which were incredibly streamlined compared to the interfaces he'd had to master over the years. He could only see a hole for the ignition, a gas gauge and a temperature gauge. He couldn't even find the brake pedal. "Do I just hop on and start it up? Are there rules?"

Grill yanked the dust cover off of a blue motorhorse next to the red one. "Yeah. You accelerate by twisting the handlebars forward and brake by twisting them backward. The foot pedals engage and disengage the secondary thrusters so you can adjust your altitude, but that takes up a lot of extra energy, so try not to do that too much, okay? There isn't much else to it. In town you'll need to follow the same traffic laws as if you were driving a car, and riding with two people on one motorhorse is prohibited in the city." He hopped onto the blue vehicle, but instead of starting it up, he continued the conversation. "It doesn't stop Max, Pic, Aero, and me from doing it anyway, but I don't want to get you in any trouble. I'd feel bad if I did, so I'm borrowing the shop's motorhorse. I can fix it if anything happens to it. Feel free to practice in the parking lot until you get the hang of the controls, and come see me when you're ready to hit the road."

The motorhorse interface was as intuitive as Grill's rambling, rapid-fire explanation of it wasn't. It took Teisel a little while to adjust to the accelerator's sensitivity, but he managed to stay on the vehicle the whole time. "I think I've got this," he said as he rode up to Grill's motorhorse no more than ten minutes later.

Grill grinned. "I'd say! I knew all that experience piloting those pirate ships would help!" He gunned the ignition on his own motorhorse and pulled out onto the road, waiting for Teisel to follow suit. "I'm gonna take you out of town. You'll have a lot more fun riding out in the plains." Before he turned around to lead the way to the gate into Teomo, however, he added, "You should put your goggles on, though. The last thing you're gonna want is a face full of dust."

That explained why all of the Bright Bats were required to own a pair of goggles. However, Teisel just raised his eyebrows and gently tapped the surface of one of his eyes. "These aren't real, you know," he reminded the chunky blond.

"Maybe not, but you wouldn't want the lenses getting scratched up by debris, would you? Finding another professional who'd be willing to find and install matching lenses for you would set you back quite a bit if you end up damaging one."

"Oh, right." Teisel realized as he fumbled at his belt for his goggles. A few moments later, the two of them were off.

Grill didn't seem to notice Max when he and Teisel passed him hauling Aero's old spotting equipment down the main road in a red wagon that looked way too small for the heaping pile of junk inside it. The mechanic made it out of the Wasteland Gate and onto the plains without a hitch, and he skidded to a stop a good 20 yards from the city limits. Teisel caught up to him and surveyed the terrain.

Aside from the bluffs to the north leading up to Ghiotte Summit, the area was relatively flat, with a well-worn path leading across the plain and only a few Reaverbots waddling around. He spotted a Guild-regulated ruin entrance on the coast, surrounded by a small pond with a footbridge leading to the entrance. There were a few spotting vehicles scattered near the ruin but otherwise the area was relatively hazard-free. In other words, it was an ideal motorhorse training ground.

"Alright, Teisel, go nuts!" Grill exclaimed with a grin.

Grill never expected Teisel to take that statement as close to literally as he did. Before he could say anything else, the new guy gunned it straight for the bluffs. At the insane rate he was driving, the vehicle practically slid up the slope. He hung a hard left on the first outcropping and barreled straight off the edge, catching more air than Grill had ever dared attempt to catch in his life. For a moment, the notion that Teisel might be lapsing back into his old habit of crashing vehicles on purpose slipped into his mind, but when Grill caught a glimpse of the goofy grin on that man's face, it became apparent that the portly mechanic had nothing to worry about.

Riding a motorhorse, Teisel decided as he carved up the hillside a second time, was far more exhilarating than piloting any robot could ever be.

Grill lost whatever interest he might have had in accompanying Teisel during his test run and parked the machine next to an outcropping of rock, perfectly content to watch as his typically taciturn teammate let

loose with an uproarious burst of laughter and shouted, "HEY GRILL! WATCH THIS!!!" before catapulting the machine off of the outcropping again. He was, quite frankly, glad they weren't double-riding this time around. Teisel's approach to the sport was way too rough for Grill's liking.

After a few hours and some wild gesticulation on Grill's part, Teisel eventually caught the hint that it was time to put the toys away for the day. "I'm glad you found something that makes you happy...but I don't want you to hurt yourself either," Grill warned as they pulled back into the garage. "Be careful next time, alright? Still, I don't think I've ever seen you smile like that were like a kid on Christmas morning!"

Teisel sheepishly grinned as he strung his goggles back around his belt loop. Riding that motorhorse might have very well been the most fun he'd had in not just the past ten years, but in his entire life. "You've been working a lot. You just haven't been around to see it when it happens," he shrugged. "I think I scared Aero. She heard me laughing a few days ago and thought someone had broken into the base."

"You do have an unexpectedly, uh, distinctive laugh," he admitted, "but it's nothing to be ashamed of!"

"Who ever said I was ashamed of my own laugh? I just don't want anyone to think I'm completely out of my mind!"

Grill parked his bike and reopened the garage door. "Too late!" He exclaimed with a joking grin.

Teisel certainly wasn't expecting that response, but he brushed it off with a chuckle and dismounted his motorhorse. Whether Grill legitimately thought Teisel was crazy or not was up for debate, but it was all too apparent that he liked seeing Teisel have fun. This detour was worthwhile, no question.

"Too bad I can't make 50,000 zenny riding one of those bikes all day," he thought to himself, wondering if there were any laws against attaching weapons modules to a motorhorse as he and Grill parted ways. Raiding an island with a team of Servbots on motorhorses could have been a real adventure, but for now it was finally time to hit the ruins.


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