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GetMeOffTheMoonRockman PMTRRL
Fan Fiction by Dashe
Press Start to Continue - Chapter 8: Return to the Klickelan Ruins

Chapter 8: Return to the Klickelan Ruins. Chapter image depicts Teisel running down a hallway with Shekuten exploding behind him and some really bad hair.

"T-Bonne! It's about freaking TIME!" Max exclaimed as soon as Teisel jogged back through the Wasteland Gate again and up the hill to where he was waiting with the wagon. The little cart was completely overloaded with their spotting equipment. "Do you have any idea how long I've been hiding behind this pile of rocks? I thought Grill would catch me for sure!"

Teisel was still basking in the afterglow of his first motorhorse outing. "You were really here this whole time? Did you see me drive off the cliff?" He giddily exclaimed. "It was great! I didn't even fall off!"

Max shook his head. "Dude, we can't just sit around and waste time right now. I've been waiting out here for hours." He tossed Teisel his digging suit and sighed. "Hurry up and change into this so we can get moving. Go behind a rock or something, whatever, you can talk about it later, alright?"

Right. His old suit.

Even though it had only been a matter of weeks since he'd last worn it, just looking at it elicited a peculiar sensation that grew more and more difficult to digest with every moment that passed. He hadn't worn his own family logo for almost a month. There was once a time when he'd had that mechanical skull marking emblazoned on everything from lethal weapons to dish towels, almost to the point of absurdity. The fact that he hadn't even had one on his person in the last month or so, aside from while he was reading Tron's handiwork, really socked him in the heartstrings right then and there. All of a sudden he felt a surge of emotion rip the ground right out from under him and start to well up inside until...

"Woah, T-Bonne, it's okay," Max suddenly interrupted Teisel's rapidly derailing train of thought. That distraught look on Teisel's face as he stood there with his armor in hand came out of nowhere, and Max really didn't want another meltdown to deal with. "It's nothing personal. I'm not mad. It isn't that I wouldn't like to hear you talk about motorhorses right now. I like motorhorses just as much as you'd expect me to like ‘em. We just have a job to do and we don't have a lot of time to get it done!"

"Motorhorses. Right. This is about motorhorses." Teisel mumbled under his breath as he exhaled.

"That's it, buddy, deep breaths. Gotta focus." Max encouraged him, watching the taller man carefully as he struggled to concentrate on his breathing. "We'll take you out riding again. That's a promise I know I can keep."

Once Teisel collected his bearings, he ducked back behind the rock to change.



He discovered that his suit was unexpectedly snug. Still wearable, but definitely more constricted than he'd remembered. Either his armor somehow shrank when it was being cleaned, or eating everything the Bright Bats gave him hadn't been a great idea after all.

Max snickered when he stiffly ambled into plain sight. "Aw man," he shook his head. "No offense, but that hood doesn't work with your hair anymore...at all."

Teisel's mouth dropped open and the color drained from his face. "B-b-b-b-but...how does that...what do I..." He stammered, looking over his shoulder to try and see the back of his own head. "You don't have a mirror, do you?"

"Sorry, dude." He shook his head. A few stray chunks of hair were sticking straight up out of the hole he was used to putting his ponytail through. Most of it didn't even reach the hole anymore. "You're gonna have to just take my word for it."

Teisel yanked the armored shell off his head and tossed it aside. It clattered to the ground and bounced down the hill toward town. He frantically pulled down the spandex hood around his neck, sending his hair into an even bigger state of disarray. "Max, detach this from my collar." He requested. "It comes off. It should definitely come off. I think there's a zipper or Velcro or something. I can't reach it. I'm holding a gun, I'm not sure I'll be able to pick it up again if I drop it, and I really don't want to shoot myself in the face."

Max balked for a moment, wondering how anybody could miss a zipper or Velcro at all, but he didn't want to start anything. When Teisel got emotional it was stressful enough. The prospect of Teisel getting emotional with a gun was downright terrifying. He swallowed his unease and walked up to his subordinate, and after a few minutes of blindly feeling around for the seam in question, much to both of their relief, Max found a tiny zipper almost completely obscured by the material.

"How's my hair?" Teisel nervously asked.

Max cringed, taking in what looked like the most awkward bedhead he'd seen on the new guy yet. Generally speaking, skintight headgear did meticulous hairstyles like Teisel's no favors. "For shooting at Reaverbots it'll work, I guess. The spot we're looking for is about ten minutes up this path, so let's just hurry up and get this over with. I hope you don't mind dragging along the stuff, either. I'm the one who hauled it across town, you know."



After twenty minutes of walking, they eventually found the place Seedy Leigh had described. It really blended in well. As Max changed the refractor in the spotting board's main component and attached the peripherals, Teisel poked at the discreet speakers Max had clumsily wired into his suit. There was a small mic attached to his collar. He'd never worked with that kind of spotting equipment before.

Technically, nobody had ever worked with that kind of spotting equipment before, since Aero had just scraped the whole thing together out of junk Pic brought in a long time ago. Not only was it outdated, it was outdated and custom.

Teisel's hands wouldn't stop shaking. He assured himself that it was perfectly normal to be nervous about going underground again as he paced around waiting for Max to finish up. It had taken them far longer to get to where they were standing now than he ever would have guessed. The sooner he could just scramble into that hole in the ground and get it over with, the better.

"Alright, I think we're ready to go." Max said into the noticeably larger dashboard mic. "Is the headset working okay?"

Teisel nodded. "Yeah, it's coming in here loud and clear. How about yours?" Judging from the look of the noise-canceling headphones Max was wearing, the only way he'd probably hear Teisel was if the equipment had picked him up.

Max nodded. "Okay then. Let's do this, T-Bonne!" He exclaimed.

Teisel didn't need to be asked twice. He pushed the tall grass aside and slid under the carefully disguised outcropping. He kept a tight grip on the edge with his free hand until he felt solid ground under his feet again. The only light that filtered into the tiny cavern came from that hidden entrance, but it was enough to lead him to a dark tunnel at the opposite end. He had to duck to get through, and he cursed himself for neglecting to bring a flashlight to duct tape to his other arm, but right as he was about to radio Max to see if he could get one, he found himself stepping straight into what could only be the Klickelan ruins themselves.

The hallway he'd entered looked both alien and familiar at the same time. A lot of those underground passages looked the same, really. Blue walls with geometric designs and incandescent embellishments lighting the way...for all he knew this could have been one of the hallways he'd stormed through in the Donner Wels without sparing the surroundings a second thought. Since that particular hallway had dozens of Shekuten scattered around the pathway, however, he found himself muttering over and over that he'd never explored this exact area before in an effort to stay focused.

There didn't really seem like too much to explore. The corridor extended so far in either direction that he couldn't make out any inkling of another passageway from his current position. If he walked far enough, he'd probably reach a door or something, but as far as he could tell it was just him and more of those explosive little guys than he could count.

"Alright Max," he whispered into the mic, trying his best not to rouse too many of the little machines. Two popped up and waddled toward him on three awkward legs before he picked them off with his machine gun. Neither of them dropped any refractor shards. "I'm in."

"I'd say!" Max exclaimed. "I'm getting some decent map readings on this monitor. It looks like you're in a long hall surrounded by a bunch of red dots. Be careful, they might be Reaverbots!"

Teisel ran straight up to a cluster of targets and they sprang into action. "Those are the Shekuten we came down here to pick off, remember?" He fired off a few shots, all but one of which missed their mark. Maybe a machine gun hadn't been the best choice for precision sniping. Holding his arm steady wasn't easy. "This last one I just hit was the first that actually dropped a refractor shard. It doesn't look like it's worth much more than 10 zenny."

"That's not good, T-Bonne."

Even though Max couldn't see it from where he was, Teisel shook his head. "Nope." He punctuated the thought with another gunshot and sent another tiny refractor shard flying.

He had a feeling he would probably be there for a while.



Eventually, Teisel stopped aiming at the Shekuten when he realized that goading them into activation and letting them detonate on their own would still yield the same amount of refractor shards. Running straight through giant clusters of them was much faster than taking the time to actually shoot them, and Max either didn't notice or didn't care how Teisel decided to get rid of the pesky things.

After running the length of the corridor, backtracking only to pick up the dropped loot, Teisel found another hole in the wall. "Hey Max, are you getting any readings from this?" He asked.

"From what? It just looks like a dead end to me." Max shrugged.

"There's a hole in the wall. You sure it doesn't lead to a better part of this ruin? These small fries aren't worth the effort!" Teisel argued. "I've been setting them off for an hour at least and I've only made 250 zenny. That's not even enough to buy a cheeseburger!"

"Well, if you think you can fit in there any better than you could fit into your suit, be my guest. Just don't come crying to me if you get yourself stuck or anything, because this jacket's worth about four times what we paid for your gun!"

Teisel knelt down and peered into the hole. It looked just big enough to crawl into. After taking a moment to collect his bearings, he crept inside. "That's it," he muttered. "Next time I come in here I'm bringing some kind of flashlight."

It was so dark he almost impaled himself on a scrap of metal as he burrowed his way through the tunnel on his hands and knees. He was lucky. In spite of all the things in the universe that had the potential to slap Teisel in the face with uncomfortable emotions, he'd never had a problem with small spaces. In fact, a lot of the robots he'd piloted were designed explicitly for the purpose of burrowing into the earth's surface in some capacity. He smiled to himself as he fondly remembered leaping through the desert sands in the Blitzkrieg on Saul Kada. That was what riding the motorhorse had reminded him of. The only thing that had been missing back then was the wind in his hair, but getting sand in his face probably wouldn't have been worth the trade-off. All in all, though, the Blitzkrieg was fun. If the Bonnes hadn't had a key to steal, he could have easily spent the day just leaping around in the desert outside of Kimotoma.

He fought the urge to curse Mega Man Volnutt's name as he pressed onward. It'd be a waste of time dwelling too much on that. The Blitzkrieg's blueprints were probably long gone anyway.



Eventually he came to a fork in the tunnel. "Max, can you still hear me?" Teisel asked.

"Yeah," Max replied. "I have no idea what it is you're trying to do down there. The map doesn't cover the area you've reached."

"Left or right?"

"Huh?"

Teisel frowned. "Pick a side. Left or right?"

"Uh, left?" Max replied. "You'd better not get yourself lost down there, T-Bonne! The gang'll never let me live it down if I got you lost in the ruins!"

"Thanks, Max." Teisel just brushed him off and kept on moving forward.



The tunnel eventually dumped him outside, onto a ridge he'd never explored in his life. The sun was just beginning to set, and Ghiotte Summit loomed over him. He'd never been this close to the landmark before. Near the tunnel entrance, almost completely obscured by a clump of tall grass, was a small box. It didn't look like the treasure chests Teisel was used to, but he kicked it open and discovered a weird-looking card inside. The card was jet black with what looked like inactive gold circuitry on it.

Teisel decided it'd be best not to tell Max about it. For all he could tell, it might have been someone's credit card, and the only person who was worse with managing a line of credit than Teisel was Max. For a moment he briefly considered asking Grill to check it out, but then he remembered that the likelihood of Grill panicking and forcing him to quit digging altogether wasn't worth the risk. It didn't take very much to get Grill to worry, and going underground was perhaps the least safe hobby he could have picked up during his stay on Klickelan Island.

He took a few minutes to relax and take in the scenery before hiding the card on his person and climbing back into the tunnel. What the Bright Bats didn't know wouldn't hurt him.



The trip back to the ruins seemed a lot shorter than the trip out had been. Teisel briefly considered exploring the path he'd passed up earlier, but Max was probably annoyed that they hadn't found any money on his detour anyway. He figured the best course of action involved setting off as many Shekuten as he could. Most of them had probably respawned by then and there really wasn't a moment to lose.

At the end of the day, he'd scraped together a measly 1,430 zenny.

"Hey, that's not that bad," Max remarked. Teisel was exhausted, sweaty, and covered from head to toe in dirt. His hair, somehow, looked worse than it had been when Max and Grill had found him passed out on the hillside. "I didn't think we'd break the 1,000 zenny mark!"

"Are you kidding me?" He retorted. He was too worn out to even yell at this point. Against all odds, Max had convinced him to tow the wagon full of electronics back into town with his gun and suit. "At the rate we're going, even if we round up, it'll still take us two months to get what we have two weeks to get. We need to take a different approach here."

"If you know how to swim, we could try another entrance."

"You'd have to be a complete idiot to live on a planet that's 95% water and not know how to swim." Teisel quipped back. "Let's give this section one more run tomorrow. The path I took wound up being a dead end, but there's another branch I passed up. I want to check that one out before moving on."

Max scoffed. "I told you, I got no readings on that tunnel. None."

"Maybe your spotting equipment just isn't up to par, then."

"Come on, T-Bonne. Aero made this to impress some guy back when she was thirteen. What can you expect from a kid that age?"

For a split second, an extraordinarily vivid image of the Gesellschaft rising into the clouds for the first time flashed into Teisel's mind, but he lost sight of it just as quickly as it had come. "You'd be surprised."

"Okay, fine." Max acquiesced against his better judgment. "One more go, but if you just hit another dead end I will never let you live it down, got it?"

"Got it."

-----

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