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GetMeOffTheMoonRockman PMTRRL
Fan Fiction by Dashe
Press Start to Continue - Chapter 13: Payday

Chapter 13: Payday. Chapter image depicts a bag of refractors. Really, that's all it is.

Scrounging up 50,000 zenny was tough. Not as overwhelmingly exhausting as accidentally walking into an invisible Sharukurusu nest had been, but tough nonetheless, and certainly much less exciting. Between paying Russell and feeding Sprocket, it took Teisel right up until the fourteenth to get enough together. There was no room to upgrade his equipment or anything, just one long, tedious zenny grind punctuated by enjoyable evening walks with his dog through the streets of Teomo City.

When Max asked him why he hadn't sold the blades he dug up, he shrugged noncommittally and dropped the subject, but the moment the two of them came up with the money, Teisel insisted that he come along when they pay Leigh off. He just didn't feel right about leaving Max to do that on his own again.

Max held the heavy bag in his hand as the two of them made their way toward 9th street. There was almost 60,000 zenny inside. "You never know when sharks like that might suddenly decide to charge you interest they didn't mention earlier," Teisel warned the previous morning. "Let's take the extra day we have and scrape together a little more money, just in case."

It didn't make much of a difference. They were almost a block away from Seedy Leigh's building when a big fellow in a faded jacket slammed into Max from behind. Teisel could only look on in stunned shock as the satchel fell out of Max's hands and sent the refractor shards scattering across the alley. Several of them clattered down into the drainage grates.

"T-Bonne, what are you doing?!" Max shouted as he scrambled after the dropped refractor shards. "Don't just stand there, grab the dough before somebody else does!"

The two of them could only recover a little over 20 grand. Not even half of what they owed Seedy Leigh. "What're the odds of some jerk crashin' into us and making us drop the loot?!" Max exclaimed in frustration. He peered into the murky depths of the nearest storm drain and tried to make out any of the dropped crystals, but there was just too much junk down there to get a clear view of anything. "Geez, of all the rotten luck..."

"That's not luck," Teisel shook his head. "This is obviously a setup. I'd be willing to bet the rest of our money that Seedy Leigh sent that guy out to do this."

"What do we do now, then?" Max asked. "We can't just go in there with less than half of what he asked for!"

Teisel wandered over to the side of the road as he evaluated his options. "What, exactly, do you know about this Seedy Leigh character, Max?" He asked.

Max rubbed the back of his neck and took another longing glance at the storm drain. "Uh...not too much," he admitted. "Even back when he was running his motorhorse gang, I never really thought to check out the competition or anything."

"...He rides motorhorses?" Teisel perked up.

"Yeah," Max shrugged. "He said he used to be on the Lightning Crusaders, back when they were still around. Even when he was laughing at me for sticking with motorhorse racing all this time, I couldn't remember ever meeting him before that day I took out the loan."

"I think I can actually work with that."

Seedy Leigh sat behind his desk with a grim expression as he took a puff from his cigar and stared Max and Teisel down. "So...looks like your story about the old man checks out." He observed. "You got the shards, Bat Boy?"

He didn't even need to wait for Max's reply, but common sense and years of experience taught him to hold his tongue. "Er...about that..."

As the younger man fumbled with his inevitably feeble excuse, Leigh tapped the cigar and let the ash fall into his imported ashtray. He had to suppress every urge to laugh at the naïve kid's misfortune. It was no easy task.

But before the sucker could get a word in, the older man stepped up to the table. Both of Leigh's bouncers instinctively reached for their concealed pistols, just in case. "I've got a proposition for you, Seedy Leigh," the stranger began. His voice sounded quite a bit younger than his appearance let on. "From what I understand, you used to be in the motorhorse business."

"Frivolous games," Leigh scoffed. "Leaving that train wreck of a racing circuit was one of the best decisions I ever made."

"Perhaps so," Teisel replied, "but you've got to admit, there's certainly something about the rush of the wind in your hair that makes you really feel alive..."

"What are you getting at?"

"Max and I could give you the 50,000 now and go on our merry way, sure enough," Teisel shrugged, "but where's the fun in that? I'd be willing to up the ante to 100,000 zenny if we banked the outcome of this transaction on a motorhorse race between the two of us."

"You're bluffing," Seedy Leigh responded without even batting an eye. "You couldn't get the money, could you?"

Teisel narrowed his gaze and stared the information dealer down. "I got the money and then some," He replied. Max could only stare slack-jawed at the conversation at hand as he held the bag of refractor shards to his chest. "Do you really think I wouldn't account for any...accidents...that might've been liable to occur along the way, in an area like this?"

Seedy Leigh leaned back in his chair, propped his feet up on the table, and hoped that they wouldn't catch any hint of a reaction that might've flickered across his face. That old guy was pretty sharp.

"And hey, come on," Teisel added, "We're the Bright Bats. I may be fairly new to the wide world of motorhorse racing, but I'm pretty sure we were no match for your Lightning Crusaders. At least that's what the rest of the gang tells me. Even if you're ten years out of practice, you'd still be up against the newest member of the Rebel Rider gang with the worst record in the underground racing circuit's history. What's a successful businessman like yourself got to lose?"

"I dunno," Leigh hemmed and hawed over the decision. "The last time the Bright Bats put a newbie into the circuit, they actually beat out the Roast Beefs. That almost cost Ole' Bully his reputation and knocked the Roast Beefs out of the rankings for months. Unless something happened in the last few years, I don't think they've won a race since. How do I know you're not some kind of motorhorse racing prodigy like that other kid?"

"Barrett was about half his age," Max interjected. "It's not the..."

Teisel cut him off. He'd warned his boss about getting overly chatty and accidentally sabotaging the whole scheme at least twice before they'd buzzed themselves in. "I can give you 15,000 zenny up front, if that makes you more comfortable with this arrangement." He added. "Win or lose, you can keep the down payment."

"15,000? Do you think I'm some kind of idiot?" Seedy Leigh sputtered. "I'm going to need at least half of the original amount to convince me to go through with this. I told everyone I was done with racing back when the Crusaders disbanded. If those guys find out I got back in the saddle to race the Bright Bats, of all the gangs on Klickelan, they'd never let me hear the end of it!"

"Come on, Leigh," Teisel bartered. "Don't make this difficult. You take this deal, and there will be a very good chance of you walking away from the table with a hundred thousand zenny in your pocket. In refractor shards, no less. A hundred thousand...that's a very large number. I personally wouldn't pay half that for the location of a Shekuten nest, but Max here isn't exactly what you'd call proficient in the negotiations department, either. I'd say 18,000 is about what that information's really worth."

"20,000 or no deal," Leigh stated. He had no idea where this old guy had come from, but he could tell he was probably quite a bit more skilled on a motorhorse than he'd come to expect out of the Bright Bats. "I'm not going any lower than 20k. There's too much at stake here."

"20k sounds fair." Teisel replied. He nodded to Max, who handed the bag of refractor shards over. He carefully counted out the down payment. They would have just enough to buy a good lunch.

"We'll race at Brink Canyon in two days, then," Seedy Leigh decided. "Ideally, I'd schedule the race for tomorrow at high noon, but I'm going to need some extra time to get myself a decent bike for the occasion."

"Let's do it," Teisel replied with a cool confidence that even had Seedy Leigh struggling to anticipate his next move.

The loan shark sealed the deal and shook the hand of the man who, unbeknownst to him, had an inexplicable ability to bounce back unscathed from almost every sort of vehicular crash imaginable.

Seedy Leigh's motorhorse racing swan song was certainly going to be one of the more interesting rides of his career.

"Dude, that was crazy! Do you even know how to race?" Max balked as the two of them walked back to the center of town. They'd snagged a couple of kebabs at a roadside gyro stand that vaguely reminded Teisel of the one he'd set up so long ago. "Didn't you just go out that one time with Grill a few weeks back?"

Teisel shrugged. He'd spent so little time at Oh My Gyros back in the day that he couldn't even tell if the carts were the same style, but nonetheless something about grabbing kebabs from a stand like that made him feel a little uncomfortable. He chalked it up to narrowly escaping Seedy Leigh's wrath and plodded down the street, wishing the tension in his shoulders would go away. "Motorhorses notwithstanding, I've got plenty of piloting experience," Teisel reminded him. "We haven't got any time to lose, though. I'm going to need to run a few laps in that canyon to get a feel for the place."

"You sure Seedy Leigh isn't going to just send his clowns to scope out that area, too?" Max asked once he'd swallowed the last of his kebab. He casually tossed the stick into the street as they walked.

"No chance. It looked to me like he was mortified at the mere idea of getting back on a motorhorse," Teisel figured. "I'm guessing he probably didn't pick an average racing day, either. Smart thinking on his part, really. This way he hasn't got the entirety of the Rebel Riders seeing to it that he follows through on his end of the bargain, should he lose."

"What if he doesn't pay up if you win?"

Teisel dropped his stick in the next wastebasket the two of them passed. "Who cares?" He asked. "I'm more concerned about losing than I am about winning and not getting the money. We win and we're out of that guy's debt for good, payoff or no payoff. If we get the 100,000, then great. I can get Sprocket her shots and maybe even buy a digging suit that actually fits me. If not, I can just go underground and get some more money."

Max glanced up at Teisel. "You really want to buy a new suit?" He asked.

"It went from being too big to being too small once I filled out again," Teisel reminded him. "You were there when I tried to squeeze into it on my first day out. Russell's been telling me that wearing a suit that doesn't fit is almost as bad as going underground without a weapon, and apparently back at Guild HQ, the receptionist told him that my suit no longer complies with their safety regulations. They only let me test at all because I was friends with Russell. While I definitely don't want to get rid of the old one, I should I dunno. I can keep the old one, right?"

"Of course you can keep the old one. You can keep anything that means a lot to you. Have you seen the common room? Pic's probably a Class S hoarder."

"I sleep there every night, Max."

When they got back to the base, Grill was already home, seated at his workbench, and tinkering with something complex and greasy. He heard the door slam and snapped to attention. "Oh hey guys," he exclaimed with a grin. "You came back earlier than usual today. I threw a casserole together expecting you to show up a little later."

"Is this casserole for all of us, or just you?" Max snickered.

"Just me."

"That was supposed to be a joke, Grill!" The gang leader exclaimed with a horrified expression on his face. "You're going to need custom tailoring on those jumpsuits if you keep that up!"

Grill set his project down and hopped up. "Oh well, there's some, er...actually..." he trailed off and tried to remember what was left in the fridge.

"We didn't come here looking for food," Teisel cut in, "but we are going to need to use the motorhorse for the next few days. I, uh...this is going to sound completely insane, but I kind of ended up getting myself into a race with the Lightning Crusaders set for the day after tomorrow. Do you know anything about Brink Canyon?"

"Teisel, the Lightning Crusaders disbanded at least five years ago," Grill interjected.

"I told you it was going to sound completely insane."

"Look, Grill," Max added, "We've got a lot of money riding on this race. More than either of us can, er, afford to lose, if you catch my drift. I've never really seen T-Bonne in the saddle, but I know for a fact that the rest of us could never outrun any of those guys. can install on our bike between now and then could make or break this. I'm not expecting a fair race on their end."

"Teisel's okay. He's...unusually reckless for an old guy." He assessed, choosing his words carefully. "You're lucky Brink Canyon's one of the easier routes and the Lightning Crusaders were always one of the lousier gangs out there," Grill shook his head with a sigh. "I don't think I want to know what you two have managed to rope yourself into, but sure. I'll help you out. Isn't that what friends are for?"

Max smiled and pumped his fist. "I knew you'd pull through, man!" He exclaimed.

"I'll prep the motorhorse first thing tomorrow," Grill replied. He wandered off toward the door. "For now I'll head back to the shop and check up on what kind of parts we have in the back to give you the winning edge you need to make it out of this on top. I guess you two can just help yourselves to the casserole in the meantime."

The casserole turned out horribly. Teisel could only hope it wasn't a sign of things to come.


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