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GetMeOffTheMoonRockman PMTRRL
Fan Fiction by Dashe
Press Start to Continue - Chapter 17: Max's Mission

Chapter 17: Max's Mission. Chapter image depicts Max, Aero, and Pic waiting around for Grill by the fountain in the center of Teomo City. Aero is checking her cell phone and looking annoyed, Max is standing on the fountain and shouting for Grill to hurry up, and Pic is sitting on the edge of the fountain with a blank expression.

Teisel and Russell sat side by side, slumped against the one solid wall in the room that wasn't covered in machinery. Although Russell backtracked to the lava room to try and check for anything they might have missed, it really looked like there was just the one staircase back to the battlefield. "This is just greeeeeat," Teisel muttered, raking his hand through his singed hair once he'd deactivated his energy blades. He wondered if he'd even make it to the barber shop to get it touched up, now that they were trapped. "We've found the missing generator that's supposed to lead us straight to the treasure, but we're one keycard short and we ended up permanently sealing ourselves in! We're going to wind up dying of starvation or dying of thirst or...or...or..." he stammered as he rubbed his temples. He could feel a headache coming on.

"Cool your jets, T-Bonne," Max coaxed through the speakers. "Remember what I said about breathing? Yeah, that's it, take a few deep breaths and don't worry so much. We'll think of something. We always do!"


"Teisel!" Russell hissed in frustration. "If there really is only so much air in here, you should probably stop yelling so you don't use it up any faster. Nevertheless, there's no need for you to panic. The room we just left was huge. You're getting yourself worked up over nothing. Now Max, can you get a read on our position as it relates to the surface? I'm wondering if there's any way to break in here from the outside. It looks like that's our best chance of getting out of here."

Max turned a few dials on the control panel and examined the largest of his monitors. "Well, the good news is that it looks like you're close to the crack where the pipeline goes into the summit's auxiliary tower," he explained. "That means that since the outer wall is already broken, you wouldn't have to do as much tunneling to get outside. As for the bad news...well, if you've seen the auxiliary tower, you'd know that the crack where all the pipes are coming from is pretty much at the top."

"So we need to get a hole in the wall on our side, then." Russell figured. He took aim at the wall behind Teisel. "That should be easy enough. Come on, Green Guy, get back."

Instead of telling Russell that he wouldn't have to worry about any accidental friendly fire, Teisel just ducked behind the control panel and out of the blast radius as instructed. Russell fired a few missiles at the wall. The resulting explosion knocked the blond man back against the generator covering the surface behind him.

Teisel peeked out from around the side of the console and blinked through the smoky haze that the impact had left behind. "Russell? You alright?" He asked.

"I'm fine," he shook it off and examined the circuitry he'd crushed. "Nothing I haven't had to deal with before, anyway. As long as the generator's still operational, we should be good..."

Unfortunately, the wall remained intact. The missile barely even left a mark.

"Hey Max," Russell reported back, "We're having some trouble busting out of here from our side. Think you could figure out a way to break through from yours? I know this kind of thinking probably isn't your forte, but...well..." He trailed off.

"Wait! I've got it!" Tesiel suddenly exclaimed. "Head back to town and get the rest of the gang! Between the four of you, somebody's going to be able to think of some way to get us back outside!"

"You want me to just leave this equipment HERE?" Max retorted. "Won't it get stolen?"

"Max, take a good look at your dashboard." Teisel pointed out. "I wouldn't have even stolen that pathetic rig during my bad years."

"You're right. This thing is pretty crappy. I'm going to go offline to get your card and see if I can track down any of the others." Max resigned. "Try not to die in there or anything, okay?"

About half an hour later, Max burst in through the door and into the common room back at the base. "Pic? Grill? Aero?" He shouted. "Anybody home?"

No answer.

"Dang it," he groaned as he plodded through Pic's junk piles, down the hall to the bedrooms, and cracked each of the doors open. "Are any of you guys asleep or hiding or something? I'm kind of desperate here!"

As he trudged back into the common room, he caught a glimpse of Tron's book sticking out from its spot between the couch and the side table. "Huh," he muttered when he noticed the black and gold card sticking out of the top. "He really did find a weird card key out there."

Max hesitated for a moment before grabbing the book from its spot. "One peek couldn't hurt," he convinced himself. It had been a while since Teisel had joined the Bright Bats, and he had to admit that he was curious about whether or not Tron Bonne was really as good at writing as Teisel had claimed. And hey, how often did he get the base to himself?

Before Max even realized what was happening, five hours had passed. He'd propped himself up against the coffee table with a bagel in one hand and Tron's story in the other, snickering at the Bonne family's hijinks with the legendary Mega Man Volnutt.

It was a strange experience, to say the least. Not only the act of reading itself, which Max typically tried to avoid whenever he could, but also mentally picturing what Teisel had been like when he'd still had his family and that ridiculous ponytail. Reading about Teisel trying and failing to convince Tron to watch an incredibly awkward DVD on the Caskett family's airship. Imagining the way that Teisel would have jumped straight into crisis mode thinking he'd printed his family's logo upside-down on all of their dish towels. Seeing a Teisel without all that baggage, assuming Tron's depiction had any degree of accuracy to it. It was just weird. Tron's writing wasn't anywhere near as great as Teisel had made it out to be, but Max didn't think she'd had much of a reason to misrepresent her own brother. Unfortunately, since Max and Tron would never have the chance to meet, he could never be completely sure.

It was almost scary how much this Teisel reminded Max of himself.

To complicate the matter, now that Max knew that his newest teammate would actually be interested in checking out his whole action figure collection, he had no idea how to even broach that subject. It wasn't exactly a popular topic with Pic, Aero, and Grill, and Teisel was a smart guy. He'd be able to tell Max had been reading Tron's book if he just happened to randomly bring it up one day.

Heck, Teisel was a pretty smart guy anyway, with all those books of his, and his planning and his weird strategy stuff. Max wasn't even sure he'd be able to hide the fact that he'd invaded Teisel's privacy to begin with. Suddenly, this didn't seem like the good idea it had seemed like when he'd started reading. Especially now that he knew Teisel's mood swings probably weren't so much grief-induced as they were a constant fixture of his personality. Why didn't he ever think anything through?

Max didn't have very long to dwell on that notion before he heard the doorknob turn. There was no time to put down the bagel or hide the book. All he could do was sit there on the floor with it and hope whoever walked in through that door was sufficiently distracted. Yeah, he figured, If I sit still enough, they probably won't even look down.

"Max, what do you think you're doing?"

"Crap. Aero." Max uttered.

"You know, most people just say 'hi.'" Aero admonished as she tossed her newly-earned satchel of refractor shards onto the couch and yanked what was left of the bagel out of his hand. "I'm already appalled that you'd read Teisel's book, but seriously. Eating right over the pages like that? What's wrong with you, Max?"

"It's really...uh..." Max stammered, slamming the book closed. "I...look, this, he did offer to let me check it out once. At Johnny's. I kind of let him just keep it to himself because I felt really bad for the guy, but today he told me that he wanted me to go fetch this card key he was using as a bookmark, so I got it and it turned out it was this book that he'd put it in and I couldn't..."

He stopped mid-sentence. "Crap!" He suddenly exclaimed again, cutting off his rapidly derailing train of thought. "That's why I was here! T-Bonne went out on a dig with our friend Russell. I was spotting, and they beat up this huge Reaverbot, but now they're stuck at the top of Ghiotte Summit's auxiliary tower! We need to find Grill and Pic and figure out a way to break in through the crack at the top and get them out of there!"

"Hold on a second," Aero stopped him before he could run off through the front door and up into the city with Teisel's precious book in tow. "If you came here to get all of us to help save Teisel's life, then how did you wind up wasting all this time invading his privacy and dropping bagel crumbs all over his dead sister's writing instead?"

"You know how easily I get distracted!" Max defended as he flipped back through the pages. He feverishly hoped that he hadn't dropped any crumbs in there. "What's the big deal, anyway? I thought you were the one who didn't trust him!"

"Not trusting Teisel and wanting Teisel to die underground are two very different things, Max."

"Sure they are."

"Just put the book back where you found it and come on," Aero groaned. "Grill's at work right now, but this is an emergency...and hopefully Pic didn't go anywhere too obscure today."

Out in the alley behind the Teomo City motorhorse garage, Grill laughed and chucked the slobbery tennis ball in Sprocket's direction, challenging the shaggy dog to snap it up before it had a chance to bounce behind her. She narrowly missed and went scampering off after the projectile. "Come on, Sprocket! Bring it back!" He egged her on and fished into his pocket for a treat. Even though Pic warned him that it would probably be a better idea to save the treats for when Sprocket actually caught the ball, the mechanic couldn't help himself.

Pic proved to be a big help in convincing Grill that Sprocket wasn't a total loose cannon. Every once in a while, the kid would end up verifying that he was actually a valuable asset to the Bright Bats, despite what the rest of the gang sometimes muttered behind his back.

The dog trotted back with the ball in tow and dropped it in front of Grill. She anxiously wagged her tail in anticipation of the next throw. Grill checked his cell phone to make sure his break hadn't ended yet, and tossed Sprocket a treat.

"Huh, I wonder what Aero wants," He said, ignoring the ball as soon as he realized he had a new text message. "She never texts me at work."

As soon as the urgency of the situation registered, he typed back a quick reply and darted off into the shop where his boss was tinkering away at a Duo-Case Z12 engine at her workbench. "Polly, you busy?" He asked.

His boss, an older woman with gray hair piled up into a bun and a pair of heavy-duty goggles clamped on over her glasses, turned to where her sole employee was leaning in through the doorframe. He had an unusually panic-stricken expression on his face. To her surprise, there was also a street dog nudging its muzzle into the garage, rubbing up against his leg. "Something happen, Grill?" She asked.

"Family emergency," he replied. He pushed Sprocket out into the back alley and motioned for the dog to stay put. "You got an airship I could borrow?"

Polly incredulously stared at the blond and asked, "What the heck d'you need an airship for?"

"Uh..." Grill faltered. Sprocket snagged his belt loop with one of her paws and started trying to pull him backward, but his hefty frame was too heavy to budge. "It's hard to explain quickly, but I'll tell you all about it once all this is over. Promise."

"I really wish I could help you there," Polly sighed. She picked up a socket wrench from her toolbox and loosened a bolt on the engine. "I don't even own an airship."

"There are two diggers trapped in a room on Ghiotte Summit!" Grill urged. "How are we supposed to help them if we can't fly?!"

Polly just shook her head and said, "It's times like these when I really wish you kids would get over your darn hang-ups about calling the police...tell ya what. You can use whatever you'd like from the shop to help these folks out otherwise, but if you need a ship, you're going to have to keep on searching."

"Thanks, Polly," Grill replied. He almost tripped over Sprocket as he ran as fast as he could to his motorhorse.

The dog followed him to the vehicle and tried to jump up onto the seat while he rummaged through his pockets for his keys, but her paws kept sliding across the leather upholstery. "Get down, Sprocket," the mechanic groaned. "You've gotta stay here while we go rescue your buddy."

Sprocket just whined and kept circling the motorhorse, almost as if she knew exactly what was going on.

"Stay put and I'll give you a treat," Grill bribed. He dug into his pocket and pulled out a strip of jerky. "Ready? Wanna fetch?"

He threw the jerky as hard as he could in the opposite direction, and the moment Sprocket raced off after it, he gunned the ignition and peeled out of the parking lot to meet with Aero and Max by the fountain in the city square.

By the time he arrived, Pic had already caught up to the others. "Sorry, I got here as fast as I could." Grill explained as he propped the motorhorse up on its kickstand. "Polly said we can use whatever we want from the shop to help get up there, but we're going to need an airship or something else that can fly if we're going to pull this off."

"We should look for T-Bonne's ship." Pic suggested.

"You mean the one he crashed?" Aero frowned.

"Yes. If the cops are still as scared of the Reaverbots as they were last year, there's an 85% chance it's in the wasteland where he left it." He figured. "We should take Polly's motorhorses out and go looking for it."

Before any of the others could respond, however, a piercing bark cut through the air as Sprocket rushed through the midday crowd and jumped up on Grill. He was too big for her to knock him over, but it still came as a complete surprise. "Wha—Sprocket, what are you doing?!" Grill groaned. "I thought I lost her back at the shop! How'd she even find me out here?"

"Looks like Teisel picked up a pretty decent tracking dog," Aero observed. She sat down on the edge of the fountain in deep thought. "I wonder...maybe we could use that and see if we can track down that airship a little faster. I mean, she knows what Teisel smells like and all."

"I've got a better idea," Max suddenly spoke up. "What if we had her sniff the book he brought with him and try to track down Tron?"

"His sister? Are you sure you're not trying to get out of..." Aero started, but Max cut her off before she could incriminate him in front of the others.

"Aero, think about it." He continued. "T-Bonne said he didn't even crack that thing open until he got to this island, so I bet it has her scent all over the pages...and the only other thing on this island that would still have that scent on it is probably his ship!"

Grill shook his head. "Max, she's been dead for ages! The chances of that airship wreck smelling like her are about as good as the Bright Bats taking home first place in the Rider Circuit this year!"

"It couldn't hurt to try," Pic shrugged.

The mechanic sighed and hopped back on his motorhorse. "I'll...uh...I'll go check in the garage for something with a sidecar, then. Pic, you're in charge of Sprocket. Take her back home and get that book."

"Okay then, so while you're doing that, Aero and I will try and figure out the best way to dig our way to Teisel and Russell." Max agreed. "We're not going to lose our new teammate on my watch!"

As the Bright Bats scattered across Teomo City, up in the auxiliary tower, Teisel furiously slashed at the wall. "Why...won'!" He grunted between blows. "You'd think I'd at least weaken the support structure if these blades could slice through a giant Reaverbot like it was some kind of cake!"

"I think you managed to crack it a little," Russell shrugged.

Teisel stepped back and frowned. He wondered how long it had been since Max left, and tried not to think about how long it had been since the last time he ate anything. "What we really need is some kind of a grenade launcher. Something more powerful than your rockets."

"Good luck finding a grenade launcher in this room," the S-class digger replied. "I'll wait here and conserve my energy instead. There's no point in talking yourself hoarse when you haven't even got a canteen of water to ration."

Once Pic grabbed the book and gave Sprocket enough time to catch Tron's scent, the dog took off down the streets of Teomo. All the years Pic spent scampering around the city climbing buildings and leaping across rooftops as he spied on the townsfolk made him the ideal candidate for keeping up with her, and although she darted down paths nobody would even think to look for, he never had any trouble matching her pace.

After almost fifteen minutes of nonstop running, Sprocket skidded to a stop in front of a building in the commercial district and started barking. The commotion caused a few random people to glance over.

"Why's that doggy so mad at Bakerly's Bakery?" A little girl asked as she tugged on the hem of her mother's skirt and pointed across the street to where Pic was slapping his forehead in frustration.

Pic shoved the book back in Sprocket's face. "Sprocket!" He stressed, "Find Tron!"

Sprocket gave the pages another whiff. She glanced back toward the tiny bakery and walked around in a small circle, sniffing the air a few more times. The young man next to her frowned and led her off toward the Wasteland Gate. The closer they could get to the crash site, the easier getting her to trace the right scent would be, he figured.

While Pic and Sprocket were wandering around the wasteland with the book, Max and Aero took a seat in the Bright Bats' favorite booth at Johnny's with a pen and notepad. "Hey, you guys!" The host exclaimed with a grin. "I haven't seen any of you Bright Bats around here in months! You two want the usual?"

"Yeah, sure." Aero replied. "We've been...busy. I keep meaning to come down here. Nobody makes pesto paninis quite like you guys do."

"We've got some work to do right now, though," Max added. "Vic, you don't know anything about digging through ruins, do you? Not like, you know, normal digging through ruins like where you run through tunnels other people made. I'm talking about digging THROUGH the outer walls and just making a new entrance."

"Gee Max," Vic sighed as he filled two cups with soda and brought them to the table. He handed each of them a straw. "I don't even know much about digging in the first place. I thought you guys gave up on that whole scene."

"Something came up," Aero told him. "Max is the one doing the spotting this time."

"That's a relief."

"Vic, it's almost been ten years. Let it go." Aero groaned.

"Hey, not everyone goes to the trouble of building their own spotting deck out of a bunch of monitors and a wiretapping kit," Max pointed out. "Which, in your defense, has actually been working pretty well for T-Bonne and me. Thanks for that."

"What!?" Aero exclaimed loudly enough for the other customers to hear. "Max, why didn't you ask first?!"

"T-Bonne didn't want you to worry about him or anything," Max improvised. "And hey, if it weren't for your equipment, then I'd have never been able to tell he was on top of one of the towers, so we really don't have to worry about him as much as we would have if we'd bought a discount rig at the junk store. If this works out, you can take credit for saving a couple of guys, all because you went and built that monstrosity."

Vic looked incredibly confused at this point, so Aero added, "We haven't been around because we've got a new...roommate...of sorts. He's trapped in the ruins right now, and that's why Max was asking about that whole 'digging straight into the ruins' business."

"Okay, uh..." Vic thought out loud. "The only thing I can think of is if you were to use some kind of weapon to break through the walls. There's a guy I see at the bar by the Diggers' Square a lot once the sun goes down. He has an arm-mounted drill that he wears around town all the time. He's always using it to find gifts for his mom in the ruins. Maybe he'd let you borrow one of his spares? He's gotta have extra drills lying around."

Aero smiled. They were actually getting somewhere. "Thanks, Vic. We'll go check it out once we're done with our paninis."

With any luck, Teisel and Russell would be back on solid ground by the next morning.


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