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GetMeOffTheMoonRockman PMTRRL
Fan Fiction by Dashe
Press Start to Continue - Chapter 15: The New Normal

Chapter 15: The New Normal. Chapter image depicts Teisel and Russell doing some action-y things. Teisel has a new suit on without Bonne emblems on it and the pink swords attached to his forearms.

Tensions were high when Max, Grill, and Teisel showed up at the bottom of Brink Canyon. The sun was high that early afternoon, with hardly any shadows to make waiting in the dusty, sweltering gorge even remotely tolerable. The bottom of the crevasse had been so well-traversed by Rebel Riders that grass didn't even grow there anymore. There were a few rogue Horokko waddling around in the dirt, but otherwise the whole place was completely deserted.

Teisel pulled back on the brakes to park the Bright Bats' fly carrier. He hoped Seedy Leigh and whatever backup he'd have with him wouldn't keep them waiting for too long. Max and Grill had doubled up on the shop's spare motorhorse and skidded to a stop next to him. The added weight made the motorhorse hard for Grill to control, but he had plenty of experience with doubling up. The mechanic had managed to incorporate a few shots of nitrous into Teisel's engine, but there really wasn't much else at the shop that could help him stack the deck in the Bright Bats' favor. Thankfully, it worked well enough with Teisel's breakneck style.

Neither Teisel nor Max nor Grill had 100,000 zenny in refractor shards. They didn't know if either—or both—of their motorhorses would even begin to cover collateral. There just wasn't any option out of this other than winning. Teisel filled a zenny pouch with rocks to toss into the betting pool when the time came. It was all they could do.

"If they don't show, does that mean they forfeit?" Teisel asked after what felt like a half an hour of waiting in silence.

"Only if the race is on the record," Max explained. "So no. That just means we're screwed. Anything other than your motorhorse getting to the end of this canyon faster than Leigh's motorhorse means we're screwed."

"How nice." Teisel couldn't help but utter. He'd never seen Leigh race before. He'd only ever met the guy once. The longer the three of them spent waiting in the canyon for him to show up, the more that notion had the opportunity to really sink in and fill him with a sense of foreboding.

Before anyone else could voice their concerns, Seedy Leigh and the two behemoths from the office roared onto the scene on three matching, high-end, blue motorhorses. None of the Bright Bats could tell if they were rentals, if they were stolen, or if the information hustler had actually gone out and bought three bikes just for this occasion.

"You guys ready to do this or what?" Max shouted. "It's almost 12:30! Where've you been?"

"No need to get all worked up," Leigh brushed it off as he dismounted the machine, picked up a stick, and started drawing a small ring in the sand. "I'm a busy man, Max, not that a guy like you would have any experience with full-time employment or anything. We'll use the standard rules. Both motorhorses need to stick close to the ground. I don't wanna see you using the secondary thrusters to run the whole race in the air, got it? Now toss your chips into the pot and let's see what your friend here can do on one of these little toys."

Teisel awkwardly walked up to the circle and placed the bag of rocks in the middle. "Come on, show us your hundred grand," he instructed. "You remembered to bring the money, right?"

"Show 'em the money, Clint." Leigh nodded toward the shorter of his two bodyguards. Clint reached into his jacket and tossed a similar pouch into the ring. Leigh locked eyes with Max and added, "Rest assured, this is the last time you racing rejects are ever going to see either of these money pouches again."

"If there are no further concerns, then let's just get straight to it," he continued. "Gramps and I'll line our bikes up at the usual spot, then Ralph's gonna count us down."

"Since you were the one who challenged them, one of their guys gets to count down to start the race, and one of their guys snaps the photo finish," Grill explained when Teisel shot his teammates a questioning glance. "Normally it's a third party making these calls, but..." he trailed off and finished the conversation with a shrug. "What can you do?"

Max walked over, gave Teisel a quick pat on the back, and nudged him in the direction of the motorhorse. "Look, try not to let the pressure get to you," he reassured him in a manner that barely seemed reassuring. He lowered his voice and added, "I'll take as much of the fall for this as I can get away with if things don't work out...I really didn't mean for it to turn out this way."

"I know," Teisel replied with a nod as he pulled his goggles on and plodded toward the motorhorse.

Grill kept a toolbox under the shop bike's seat. Both he and Clint were going to function as their respective teams' pit crews, so there were four motorhorses revving their engines at the starting lines. Max stood near the money and kept an eye on it to make sure Ralph didn't touch either bag.

"3! 2! 1!" Seedy Leigh's tallest bodyguard counted. "...GO!"

The four bikes kicked up a trail of dust so thick that Max and Ralph couldn't even see them peel off into the distance.

I should have figured the old man would be some kind of daredevil, Seedy Leigh thought to himself as he poured on the speed to catch up. They were neck and neck on the straightaway, but as soon as the first sharp right approached, Leigh had to pull back. Teisel, however, just whipped around that turn like it was nothing. He looked like he was just gunning the accelerator to the maximum amount the whole way through. He's gotta be breaking a hundred on that thing...he's just asking to crash with that kind of crazy driving. Maybe I should help him out with that.

He reached for what looked like a custom hand brake on the left side of the handlebar unit and squeezed the trigger. A panel on the front of the motorhorse slid out, revealing a functional plasma shotgun. I didn't think I'd need to pull out the big guns so soon, he mentally added with an amused grin as he squeezed the hand brake on the right and fired three energy blasts off.

They whizzed past Teisel's head, causing the former pirate to almost fall off the bike right then and there. "WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT?!" He sputtered out loud as he skidded to avoid hitting a particularly large rock. He glanced over his shoulder just to see Seedy Leigh shoot off another round of plasma fire. Even though the motorhorses were essentially low-end hovercrafts, they had a tendency to snag on rocks and flip over, especially at higher speeds. He quickly drifted back to the left and felt the motorhorse wobble before he regained his balance. "HOW DID YOU—WHAT WAS..."

"Still think you can maintain that speed and prevent yourself from getting blown to smithereens?!" Seedy Leigh shouted as he closed the gap, firing as often as his mounted weapon could handle.

Teisel couldn't hear a word of Leigh's taunts over the roar of the engines and gunfire. They were in the middle of another long stretch of canyon, with what Teisel believed to be a hairpin left turn ahead that led into a more forgiving curve winding to the right. It was arguably one of the hardest legs of the route. If he could gun the nitrous and power through the rest of the stretch, he could shoot through the curves at the regular maximum speed and keep a safe enough distance between Leigh and himself at the risk of leaving Grill dangerously far behind.

There wasn't much time to think about that one, so he made a snap decision and went for it. Before he could so much as blink, he felt his goggles begin to dig into his face as the motorhorse nearly doubled its velocity. Leigh's shots whizzed past while Teisel drifted and zigzagged down the straightaway. He hunkered down over the bike to give his opponent the smallest target he could offer.

The sharp left was drawing closer and closer and Teisel knew there was no way he'd be able to get through it without slamming straight on into the wall, and while he'd probably get through that one without a scratch, the collision would, without question, total the motorhorse. He'd be out of the race for good, 100,000 zenny in debt assuming he'd even make it out of the canyon alive, and Grill would probably make him replace the motorhorse on top of everything.

He never even got the chance to calculate his next move, because by then, Leigh had shot a few rounds straight into Teisel's main thruster jet, sending the whole machine straight into a small boulder and catapulting its reckless rider sky high. Teisel crashed to the ground with a thud, and much to Leigh's astonishment, jumped to his feet almost immediately after the impact. His hair looked like a complete disaster, but otherwise it was as if the wipeout had never even happened.

Teisel frowned and checked the damage while Seedy Leigh zipped past him and shouted some sort of taunt that he didn't quite catch. The motorhorse just had a few scuffs, but the buster had completely ruined the rocket thruster that kept his machine going. "GRILL!" He shouted at the top of his lungs, scanning the horizon for any sign of his mechanic. "GRILL, I NEED ANOTHER ONE OF THESE JET THINGS!" He exclaimed the second he spotted the shop bike.

Grill revved the accelerator to catch up and pulled back on the brakes just in time.

"The thruster. That's what this thing's called, right? I need a replacement thruster." He repeated, knowing full well Grill probably hadn't heard him the first time. "Seedy Leigh's got a gun."

"The only spare primary thruster I've got is the one on this bike," Grill reported. "Since both bikes are the same model, I can swap the two parts, but that also means you lose your pit crew for the rest of the run."

Teisel nodded. "Do it."

It only took Grill about a minute to swap the thrusters on the two vehicles. "Show that has-been what the Bright Bats are made of!" Grill exclaimed as Teisel gunned it directly into the twisted path, throwing so much dust into the air that Grill would find himself picking it out of his jumpsuit pockets for the next week and a half.

Teisel's turns were so tight his shoulder almost scraped the ground, but he made it through and into the right hand curve. Once the path straightened out again, he could see Leigh and his motorhorse zipping along at a speed that would have been impressive if he'd been in a normal race against a normal opponent under normal circumstances. The finish line was no more than 300 yards past the next bend, with a sheer wall of rock cutting the path off a bit past the finish marker.

He didn't have much time to close the gap, but at least he didn't have to worry about that gun from behind Seedy Leigh's bike. Teisel deployed another shot of nitrous and shot up the straightaway like the lightning his opponent's team was named for.

Leigh's eyes nearly bugged out of their sockets behind his goggles when he looked back to find Teisel not only in plain sight, but dangerously close to regaining the lead. With another curve coming up before the finish line, he'd have to take the turn going full throttle as well if he wanted to even stand a chance at beating this maniac. There was no other way to put it. The way he just jumped up after flying off a motorhorse going full speed...there was just something wrong about that old guy. And Seedy Leigh sure wasn't about to get shown up by a nutcase like that.

He ducked behind the windshield and gunned it. He almost scraped along the side of the canyon walls as Teisel followed suit. Even five years earlier, when he still had all of his hair, he'd never taken a curve this fast. None of the Crusaders had. This was a move reserved only for the incredibly skilled and the incredibly insane. He never would have expected the Bright Bats to recruit someone who'd have the sheer guts to try it, but Teisel managed to slowly pull up alongside Leigh, who was too busy trying to stay on his bike to even take a few wild shots at him.

This psycho's got to slow down, Leigh thought to himself. There's a freaking WALL up ahead on the other side of the finish line! If he doesn't ease up on the throttle he'll kill himself!

But Teisel wouldn't let up. He seemed bent on drawing out this high-speed game of chicken for as long as he possibly could, with what looked like no regard for the potential consequences whatsoever. As Teisel pulled ahead, Leigh realized that if his opponent smashed head-on into the cliffside, he'd probably get caught in the explosion too. As soon as the path opened up into the final straightaway, Leigh put in one last-ditch effort to gun his opponent down before the inevitable crash.

Before Leigh could even get a shot in, Teisel did the unthinkable and revved up another speed boost.

The resulting collision was spectacular. Leigh skidded to a stop as the motorhorse erupted into an improbably huge blaze, shooting scraps of metal everywhere and splintering its power refractor into enough shards to buy a high-end pair of leather boots. The rider himself was, in fact, on fire. He flew through the air and landed a few feet ahead of the finish line with all the grace and daintiness of a brick.

To Seedy Leigh's dismay, neither of the two mechanics had shown up in time to witness this gratuitous display of complete madness. And neither of them were around to see the man pull himself back onto his feet, his vest still aflame, and walk up to where the other racer was just sitting on his motorhorse staring straight ahead. All the while, the old man laughed a laugh that sounded so psychotic it sent shivers up the veteran biker's spine.

"W-w-w-w..." Seedy Leigh stuttered. "What the heck just happened!? Who ARE you, anyway?"

His opponent just pushed up his goggles and stared straight at the shady information hustler. "My name's T-Bonne," he replied with a triumphant grin, "and I believe the Bright Bats have just kicked your sorry excuse for a hide all the way to Forbidden Island and back!"


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