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GetMeOffTheMoonRockman PMTRRL
Fan Fiction by Dashe
Press Start to Continue - Chapter 18: Bright Bats to the Rescue!

Chapter 18: Bright Bats to the Rescue! Chapter image depicts Aero and Grill tinkering with the drill drone at the Bright Bats' workbench.

It was well past sunset when Max and Aero arrived at the bar, a surprisingly clean but crowded venue called "The Rusty Zakobon." Max had no trouble spotting Vic's acquaintance. The man in question was seated just a few places down from where a young woman in a pith helmet was whining loudly about her horrible job. He looked like he'd just come back from the ruins. In fact, his drill was still attached. And unfortunately for Max, the reason they were able to find him right away was because this wasn't the first time the two of them had crossed paths.

"What the heck?" The blond man nearly spat his drink out all over Max. "You're that guy who tried to hit me up for a way to break into the ruins last month!" He exclaimed as he threateningly waved his drill around and narrowly missed a cluster of empty bottles on the counter. "You're the third biker who's come up to me this week! What's the deal here? Do I have a sign on my helmet or something?!"

Aero eyed the digger with suspicion and glanced toward her teammate. "Do I even want to ask...?"

"I don't need anything morally questionable this time," Max insisted. "I just need to borrow your drill so I can break into the ruins!"

Needless to say, this complete stranger didn't like the direction the conversation had taken. "Are you insane? How is this any different from the last time you tried to get me to help you break into the ruins? You do realize I use this drill to make a living, right? I've got a nephew who's coming to visit soon, and I can't just greet him at the docks empty-handed!"

"I thought Vic said he liked buying things for his mother," Aero whispered. "Maybe we got the wrong guy."

"Isn't there anyone else with a license who gives their mom a share of the loot? Why do so many people think that's weird?" The blond guy sighed. He voraciously chugged down his drink and turned back to the bartender. "Sheesh. At this point I might as well just get 'Troy Carter: Class A Mama's Boy' printed on my license. Fill 'er up."

"Look, dude," Max pressed. "That friend of mine I told you about before—you know, the one who wanted to get into digging and totally wasn't made-up? Well, he got an instructor, and now they're both trapped at the top of the auxiliary tower. Two of our guys are out in the wasteland trying to recover a wrecked airship to get up there. We need a drill to break in from the outside, and know Vic, from Johnny's Sandwiches and Internet Café? He sent us your way and told us you probably had a spare drill. Come on, man, these guys have been in the ruins all day!"

The bartender and Troy exchanged a second mug for a fistful of refractor shards. "Okay, fine." Troy resigned. "You can borrow my spare drill arm, but make sure you bring it back when you're done, alright? They aren't as cheap as they look!"

Aero and Max bumped fists and actually let out a whoop right there in the bar. "I'll see to it that you get it back," Max asserted. "Thanks again, Mr. Class A Mama's Boy."

Troy resisted the urge to drill a hole in Max's face. Instead, the digger simply polished off his drink and led them out into the city.

By that time, Pic, Grill, and Sprocket had managed to find the wreckage of Teisel's last Drache crumpled against a mountainside. The lower bow had taken the brunt of the damage, and Grill had hooked up a lamp to assess the extent of the repairs he'd have to make. "Pic, stop standing in front of the light," he groaned for what seemed like the twentieth time since the sun went down. "I can't tell what kind of gun turrets these are supposed to be."

"Do we really need the gun turrets?" Pic asked. He'd been charged with holding onto Tron's book and keeping Sprocket from getting in the way of the repairs. "All you want to do is get it to fly."

"Well, uh, all of this engine work is...very custom. For all I know, the gun turrets might house half of its circuits. I could easily spend another day just trying to figure out how it functions. Even though the damage to that area is minimal, I think I'm going to have to rip out the whole thing and put a couple of Polly's in. I think three of her Holon Units should work for short distance flight."

"She'd give you three engines?"

"I just don't know," Grill sighed. "I mean, she did say we could use anything in the shop, but it's an awful lot to ask. And we're going to need to completely reconstruct the front end of this ship. It'll take all night, and she's probably getting ready to go to sleep right now."

Pic shrugged and replied, "Just take the engines now and worry about the moral implications once T-Bonne and Russell are back." He handed the book to Grill and added, "Take this back to the base, too, before it gets messed up."

Grill tucked the book under his arm and climbed back up onto the motorhorse. "Alright," he said out loud, more to himself than to Pic. "It looks like I'm going to be pulling an all-nighter..." And before Pic could say anything in response, the mechanic gunned the ignition and peeled out and back toward the city.

When Grill got back to the base, he found Max hunkered over the workbench, where Aero was bolting some kind of drill to a weird helmet. "Hey Grill, were you able to find the airship?" She asked once she'd glanced up from her work.

"Yeah," Grill replied. "The mechanical work on that thing is a complete mess, though. I can't make heads or tails of it...I'm not surprised there wasn't anyone out there who could replicate Tron's blueprints, to be completely honest."

Max glanced up at Grill and said, "What are you gonna do about it?"

Grill shrugged and shook his head. "There isn't much I can do besides disconnect the engine and swap it out for a couple of Polly's. I'm not sure I feel right just taking a bunch of her engines like that. They've got fuel refractors in them and everything, and she did say I could help myself to anything in the shop, but...I dunno, she sells those things for a lot of money."

"You should leave the original at the shop as collateral," Aero suggested. "We're only borrowing them to get Teisel and his coach back, remember?"

"Yeah, right, I probably shouldn't worry too much about it," Grill replied self-consciously. "What are you working on over there?"

"I'm building a drill helmet we can use to break through the wall," Aero explained. "We figured it'd be more efficient to send Sprocket in through the crack in the ruins, since dogs tend to do a lot of digging anyway. It's easy enough for me to rewire it so we can control the drill with a remote from outside, and if that airship has a tracking system, I could probably program it to track her progress."

Grill frowned. "Guys, I don't know...what if there isn't anywhere for Sprocket to walk inside that crack in the ruin walls? What if it's just a long way down? What if it turns out she doesn't like airships? The guy's already lost his family. Do we really want to risk his dog, too?"

"Hey, that dog's been really helpful so far," Max piped up.

"You're going to need to have a backup strategy if it turns out there isn't any solid ground beyond the tower's outer walls." Grill insisted.

"Well, sorry to inform you our strategist is trapped inside the tower," Max scoffed.

"Can't you build a remote-controlled drill drone instead?" The mechanic exasperatedly demanded. "Really, Max, I could see you coming up with these weird plans, but Aero? I figured you'd at least know a little better. You're starting to sound really sleep-deprived."

"That tracking idea, though? That one would work, right?" Aero asked with a little more than a hint of desperation in her tone as she cracked an awkward grin.

Grill sighed. "Yeah, sure. Maybe you two should turn in for the evening. I'm going to be up all night myself working on that ship out in the wasteland, and if I finish up with it tomorrow, I'll need someone coherent to actually pilot it."

"No way!" Max shouted before the one actually doing all of the work had a chance to respond. "The sooner we get this dog helm...uh, I mean, this drill drone up in the air, the sooner we can save T-Bonne!"

"Riiiiight..." Grill trailed off. He turned toward the door. He didn't have much time to lose, either. "Good luck with that."

By the time Grill made it to the garage, he figured that Polly had been sound asleep for at least two hours up in the apartment she kept on top of the shop. He fumbled around for the key she kept behind the loose brick in the alley and unlocked the back door. There wasn't an alarm on the back door.

Even though Grill Pitmaster had been affiliated with the Rebel Riders for almost twelve years, he had never been very comfortable with the 'breaking the law' aspect of the job description. After all, he'd been the one who'd gone and got himself a part-time job as soon as he could, just so he'd never end up stuck pursuing solely illegal endeavors to survive. He figured the worst he'd ever have to do would be double-riding and outfitting motorhorses with illegal mods that would only ever be used outside the city limits. That much was morally ambiguous at worst, right?

But in his mind, there was no question that grand theft from his place of employment was inherently wrong. Even with his boss's implicit permission. When she'd said "anything he needed," she probably didn't think he'd need this much stuff, did she? Grill silently padded his way over to the storage cubicle and glanced over the array of functional, ready-to-install Holon Units on display. They were worth about 180,000 zenny each, including the fuel refractor. Those refractors usually ran high. And that wasn't even counting the sheet metal and tools he'd need to patch up the external damage.

He glanced toward the ceiling. Somewhere up on the second floor, Polly was obliviously snoring away, with her cat likely to spontaneously pounce on her face at any given moment. He couldn't linger around for too long, so he grabbed the closest engine he could find and lifted it up.

Those engines were a lot heavier than they looked. There was no way they'd fit in the sidecar. Grill would need a whole trailer to transport those supplies. He set the engine back down again and bit his lip. What he'd imagined would constitute a quick trip into the garage to get some tools had quickly turned into a need to practically steal everything from his workplace that he could fit into one trailer, and then steal the trailer itself.

His train of thought was suddenly derailed when he heard footsteps behind him. "Grill, what'd y'all end up needing?" Polly asked. Surprisingly enough, she was still in her jumpsuit from work. There was no sign of any struggle with her cat whatsoever.

"Uh," he stammered, "Pic and I found our friend's airship out the wasteland. It's been crashed there for at least two months. There was a lot of damage to the engine. It's very...custom. I was going to swap it for three of yours just for the night and let you take a look at the one in the ship. I've never seen anything like it in my life! You're okay with that, right? I mean, yeah, it's a lot of engines, but..."

Polly just raised her hand to signal him to shut up. "If it's such an emergency, you ought to stop dawdling around back here and start hauling supplies. I'll hitch the trailer to my motorhorse."

"'d really...?" Grill trailed off.

"If this situation's enough to get you to clock out early, I figure I might as well help you out with the mechanical work and speed things along." Polly declared. "Enough chit-chat. Let's go fix an airship."

"Hey. Russell. What time is it?" Teisel groggily asked. It was impossible to tell whether the sun was up outside or not. Against all odds, after wearing himself out trying to slice that wall open, he'd somehow managed to fall asleep curled up against the control panel in the ruins. He couldn't remember if he'd had any dreams. He had a hunch that this was probably for the better.

Russell, who up until that moment had been sound asleep himself, glanced over at the watch built into his left gauntlet. "About three in the morning," he replied. It was the first thing he'd said in about four hours.

"...Max didn't forget about us, did he?"

"You know Max better than I do," Russell admitted, but when he saw Teisel's expression crumple across the room, he quickly added, "Look, he's probably working something out. We're at the top of Ghiotte Summit, after all. Maybe not the tower we were aiming for...but if there's one thing I do know about your friend, it's that just like every other person in the world, he can't fly unassisted."

Teisel wasn't convinced. "I don't know about this," he mumbled. "I'm...I don't know if any of this was such a good idea. Good things don't usually just happen to me without some kind of a catch."

"What are you even talking about? We're at the top of the auxiliary tower in an area that nobody's ever explored before. We probably defeated a one-of-a-kind Reaverbot down there. I know researchers who would pay a lot of money for information and sketches of that thing we just blew up. And sure, we're stuck in these two rooms at the moment, but usually when I go underground, I don't have a spotter at all. The fact that you had someone tracking us in the first place is what's going to get us out of here!"

"You make all of this sound so easy." Teisel responded as he shook his head. "I thought things were actually looking up for me for a while, but what if the Bright Bats really did think I was just getting in the way this whole time? What if they were afraid I'd do something crazy if they told me the truth? What if Max ran off so he could finally get rid of me for good? This is probably going to end up just like when we stole that huge refractor and tried to open a department store, or when the Servbots threw Ryship's big treasure out with the garbage, or when they cancelled the Giga Guy Myths series' big comeback..."

As Teisel rattled off his doubts at an unsettlingly quickening pace, Russell found himself unsure as to how to even respond. He'd dealt with Teisel in various states of rage and panic before. He'd been there when he wiped himself out passing a basic digging test. This time, though? He wasn't sure what it was. The precariousness of the situation at hand, perhaps? The fact that Teisel didn't seem to have the strength left in him to yell? Maybe it was their overwhelming dependence on Max's ability to follow through on his word. No matter what he could say to reassure Teisel, the truth of the matter was that Russell had only known Max for a few weeks, and nearly all of their interactions had been through a radio system. He barely knew Max on a personal level at all.

Whatever it was, it sparked a level of desperation in the rookie that didn't sit right with Russell. "You can't say for sure that he'll come back, can you?" Teisel challenged. He glanced around the generator room to make sure he hadn't overlooked anything. His voice was shaking. He looked like he could emotionally collapse at a moment's notice. "How long has it been since Max signed off? Twelve hours? Fifteen? Why hasn't he checked up on us?"

Russell suppressed the urge to roll his eyes. "Because it's three in the morning. He probably thinks we're asleep."

The blond man stared at the crisscrossing patterns in the dull turquoise floor. Teisel seemed perfectly fine—thriving, even—while he was slicing up that Reaverbot in the heat of the fight, but evidently, sticking him in a completely harmless generator room, no immediate danger in sight, and telling him to just wait for his friends to blast through the walls and provide them with an exit was enough to cause a psychological meltdown. Sure, they hadn't had anything to eat or drink in that time, and there weren't any guarantees that they'd get out, but dwelling on all of that didn't make any sense to Russell. And although he knew Teisel had lost his family and had been taking it pretty hard for a while, he found himself unable to connect those events with their current predicament.

"I don't know, Russell," Teisel said after what seemed like hours of awkward silence. "Maybe we should just jump off that ledge into the lava out there. It seems like a much more efficient way to die than to sit here waiting for those guys to come back until we dehydrate."

So much for getting any more sleep, Russell mentally noted, with more than a twinge of regret that he was more annoyed than concerned over that statement. He was a digger, not a therapist! Now, on top of everything, he had to worry about the Green Guy trying to hurl himself off of a precarious ledge. Falling off of that ledge had seemed like an easy feat even when they were trying to stay on it.

"Don't do that," he finally replied. "I really think they'll pull through. I mean, that probably doesn't mean anything to you right now, but...uh..." He glanced down at his watch readout. It hadn't even been twenty minutes. There had to be something different between this situation and the fight against the spike-covered Reaverbot. They were even looking at the same pit of lava. How could one scenario prompt Teisel to go out of his way to avoid falling into the lava, and another, seemingly safer one goad him into thinking about jumping into it? What was going on in that man's head?

"That's it!" Russell exclaimed out loud before abruptly covering his mouth with his hand. He didn't want to incite any more of a panic in his student. It had just slipped out in his excitement.

Teisel was thinking. Back when he was up against the insurmountable hoard of Sharukurusu, not to mention the giant Reaverbot they'd just faced, he didn't have any time to dwell on much beyond the scope of "Crap! Reaverbots! I can't let them beat me!" Russell had a digging student who was so focused on winning that he'd even refused to let up once the real pro jumped into the fray to save his hide. But up here, trapped indefinitely in a generator room with no conceivable way out from the inside? It was psychological torture. The whole situation was giving Russell a headache. And while he had no way of knowing what random thought had started Teisel on this downward spiral, he really didn't like the way the effects were turning out.

He had to create a diversion, even if it meant that he'd use up what was left of his energy faster. #9, #27, and #35 certainly would have wanted Teisel to escape if they'd gone to all the trouble of finding the Aurora Stones just to bust the guy out of debtor's prison.

"Hey." Russell started. He hoped he wouldn't have to stall Teisel for very long. He didn't know how long his own voice would be able to hold out without water. "Tell me as much as you can about that Reaverbot we blew up down there. I wouldn't be surprised if it were really the only one of its kind, so we've got to remember as many details as we can."


"You know, that Reaverbot." Russell began. "Start with the visuals. It was blue and something. Blue and brown, right?"

"Lighter than brown," Teisel corrected. "I think it had some bronze in it. Just on the edges. It was big and round with spikes around the middle..."

As Teisel listed off a number of details Russell hadn't noticed, the more experienced Digger hoped beyond all hope that he was right and Max was actually working to break in and rescue them. It was all he could do.

No less than ten minutes later, Grill and Polly had the Drache airborne. Pic was curled up on the ground nearby, fast asleep, while Sprocket attacked any errant Reaverbots that dared get too close to the crew.

The guns on the airship were damaged beyond repair, but two commercial-grade engines ended up being enough to get it flying. "Call your friend with the drill," Polly shouted from the cockpit as she parked the machine and lowered the gangway. "As far as this ship's concerned, she's all set."

"Thanks again, Polly," Grill said with an exhausted smile as he wiped the dust off of his goggles with his bandana. "I've got this under control."

"Alright, Grill," Polly replied. She dropped Tron's engine into her trailer and hopped onto her motorhorse. "Be careful."

Guile's theme blared through Max's cell phone speakers and jolted the gang leader out of a particularly entertaining dream involving a road trip to a castle in the middle of a boring suburban sprawl. He squinted through the dark and groped around the top of his crowded desk, knocking about twelve thousand zenny in collectable figurines over until he finally stumbled upon his cell phone.

"Sup?" He slurred. He was clearly still riding the aftermath of his suburban castle adventure and trying to cling to the imagery of the fabled sword of...what was the name of the sword again? He flipped the switch on his desk lamp to look for some kind of writing implement hiding somewhere in the mess of toys, and grabbed the nearest pen he could find. He hastily doodled the sword in question to the best of his ability on the back of a receipt as Grill spoke.

"You awake, Max? How are you and Aero coming along with your drill drone?"

Max squinted at the sword. It was frustrating, the way his drawing abilities never quite seemed to match up with the picture in his head. At least this time it looked sort of like a sword. "Uh...kind of?" He winced. He left the bedroom and shuffled back down the hall to make sure Aero hadn't passed out over the workbench. He hadn't even woken up enough to realize his response made no sense.

"Max! I can't believe you fell asleep!" Grill scolded.

"Come on, Grill, it's me," Max groaned as Aero glanced up from her work. She had three empty energy drink cans in front of her and a tangled mess of wires connecting the drill to a motor. "What'd you expect?"

"Point well taken," The mechanic replied.

"Give me that," Aero muttered, snatching the phone straight out of Max's hand the moment her self-proclaimed leader got close enough. "Grill? You there?"


"I've got the parts working, but I can't quite figure out how to make an outer shell that actually flies. You know how programming and electronics were always more my thing," Aero explained.

Aero could just picture Grill massaging his forehead in frustration as he asked, "Why is it that the two of us can't catch a break, and Max and Pic get to just sleep through it all?"

"You're asking the wrong person, Grill. Wake Pic up and have him watch the ship so we can get this drone finished before the sun comes up."

Up in the ruins, a strange concept to anyone accustomed to doing their digging underground, Teisel went over the details of the Reaverbot fight for the fifth time. "You sure you really need to hear this again?" He asked. His voice was hoarse from overuse. Russell doubted the man had it in him to get up at all at this point, much less throw himself off the ledge into the lava, assuming the lava itself hadn't cooled by then.

It wasn't like plummeting into rock would yield a different result from plummeting into lava, Russell figured. It'd be messier, sure, but there weren't any other diggers who would be able to reach that spot to begin with, so he doubted it would matter too much in the long run.

The difference in the way the two men instinctively responded to the same situation almost would have been fascinating to Russell if the situation in question hadn't been so immediate. In all his years of experience, a day stuck in a generator room should have been nothing. In fact, he'd been lost underground for nearly a week once without a spotter, but even then, he never just lost all hope for getting out of the ruin alive like that. Russell had always been the kind of guy who stockpiled survival techniques, and now here he was, squandering his most basic strategy—energy conservation—because it seemed like running his mouth was the only thing that would keep Teisel from descending into a full-on, life-threatening meltdown.

"Yeah." Russell said with a nod. It took way more effort than it should have taken for him to pronounce his words properly. He needed a drink. He needed sleep. He needed them both, in some order. "There could be a lot of money in it for us if we've actually discovered something new. That'd be great. It didn't really pay off much when we took it down, you know?"

"...And they won't need any real pictures? Like on a phone?" Teisel asked when he realized Russell was finished talking.

"I don't know, but I'm sure they wouldn't blame us for defeating it." Russell figured.

Teisel reached over and picked his purple crystal up off the ground next to him. He'd been so busy worrying about being trapped that he'd completely neglected to stick it in the equipment pack built into the back of his suit. "This thing looks weird." He mumbled as he took some more time to inspect it.

"We must've picked up some of the Ancients' original treasures," Russell mused. He stood up, stretched, and walked over to take a better look at the loot. "We know what the card key does, but I can't even begin to guess at what you've got there."

"Maybe it's just a fancy refractor," Teisel guessed after lazily turning the crystal around in his hands a few times.

"...I've never seen a refractor that looked like that in my life." Russell replied. "You must be in worse shape than I thought."

Before Teisel could process Russell's sentence, a violent tremor shook the room. Russell ducked and pulled Teisel flat onto the floor with him. "Hit the deck!" He exclaimed as bits of stone and metal shot toward them from the wall Teisel had spent all that time attacking. "We've got Reaverbots flying in!"

Teisel blinked and stared upward helplessly as a compact, pink robot with a propeller on top and a disproportionately large drill at the front end hovered in the air for a moment before it turned back around to widen the passage. "...It's a...drill Finkel?" He uttered. He was scarcely able to believe what he was seeing. "Why's the Finkel here? Did I fall asleep again?"

Russell had never heard the name "Finkel" before, but he couldn't help but notice the similarities between this and the little flying pig robot that he'd seen with the Servbots that one day back in Shala-Kun. "That's what that thing was called, huh?" He said as he stood up, raising his weapon and slowly walking over to the aperture to check it out. He glanced inside and could see the faintest hints of the morning sunlight filtering in as the robot chipped away at the wall and cleared a path to the outside world. "I doubt it's your family, though. If anything, I'd be willing to bet it's your spotter! Didn't I tell you he'd pull through?"

All Teisel could do was lie on the ground where Russell had left him and stare up at the hole in the wall with a slack-jawed gaze.

"Come on, Teisel," Russell stated. He walked back over to the control console and crouched down next to his student. "Get up. I can't let you just pass out in here when we're so close to getting out!" He prodded.

Thankfully, Teisel shook his head and managed to pull himself to his feet using Russell and the control panel for support when he needed it. His legs had fallen asleep sometime during the night, and the mere act of standing made it feel like the room was spinning out from under him. He hoped he wouldn't have to climb very far down the side of the tower. Just getting from the control console to the hole leading back outside looked nearly impossible.

Russell either didn't seem to notice or didn't seem to care how dizzy, tired, hungry, or thirsty his protégé was. He pried the crystal out of Teisel's hand and guided him forward. Before Teisel even realized it, he was being lifted up and into the hole in the wall. "Hope you're not claustrophobic," Russell muttered under his breath. He remained determined to get the two of them out of this ruin alive, even if it meant shoving Teisel all the way up that tunnel himself.

He wasn't immediately sure if Teisel was going to respond, but something clicked up there and the former pirate eventually figured out that he needed to climb up.

When the younger digger stopped in his tracks at the very top and blocked off their exit, Russell prodded him and shouted, "You gonna just stay there all day, Green Guy? What's the holdup?"

Even though the hole in the ruin dumped them out on top of a massive duct that gave them a fairly decent amount of surface area to stand on, the only thing Teisel could focus on was the Drache hovering at the end. There were metal patches all over the vessel, and the guns were missing, but there was no mistaking it. That was his ship.

Russell shoved the flabbergasted man along the ground and pried himself out of the tiny passage. It didn't take long for him to recognize the ship as Teisel's. Suddenly the Green Guy's sluggishness made sense. He motioned for the pilot to lower the gangway as Teisel shook off his stupor long enough to stand back up. While Russell couldn't exactly see any windows, the pilot had to have some way of noticing that he was ready to board.

Sure enough, the hatch opened and a plank of steel lowered onto the edge of the duct. "Hurry up and get in!" Max shouted as he stepped out and frantically gestured for them to proceed.

"You came back!" Teisel exclaimed in a hazy mixture of relief, exhaustion, shock, and vertigo. He clumsily scrambled toward the ship, with Russell trailing behind and hoping neither of them would slip and fall off. As he stumbled into the Drache, he clung onto Max as if he'd disappear forever if he ever let go. "You didn't just run off and sell all of our possessions on the internet! You're the best spotter I've ever had!"

Max sheepishly grinned. "Yeah, uh, thanks," he said. He shrugged his strategist off while Teisel babbled on like an emotionally incontinent madman. Seeing how happy Teisel was to see him only made him feel worse about reading his sister's book.

As the reunion transpired, Aero shut the door from the only seat in the crowded cockpit. It had taken her over an hour to figure out the controls. Just looking at the dashboard for too long gave Max a splitting headache. Neither of them could believe that this was the kind of machinery Teisel was accustomed to driving. On top of that, there wasn't very much room in the Drache. Squeezing four people in there was really pushing the little ship's passenger capacity, and Teisel was a really big guy. "We put some water bottles and energy bars in the cooler if you want 'em," she offered.

"Yeah, we want 'em." Russell flatly replied. He scanned the compact compartment for the cooler in question and flipped the lid open once his mind registered its location, tucked safely underneath Aero's seat. "Hey T-Bonne, can you catch?" He asked, offering a bottle of water.

By this time, Teisel was curled up on the floor, propped up against a wall and blathering on to himself about white pizza not being real pizza. Russell took that as a cue to crack the bottle open and slip it into his hand. "Drink up, buddy. We're taking off."

Teisel looked at the bottle for a bit before taking a sip, then proceeded to down the whole thing in one chug. Being back in his Drache was a strange experience, to put it lightly. An unsettling one. It felt like every time he blinked, he was back in the cockpit, desperately scanning the skies for any sign of the launch pad, or even just a glimpse of that little island. Trying to figure out whether he'd rather gun down the old lab with everything he had, or drop in to see if there was anything worth taking left inside. He found himself remembering the days when the machine was on its last legs and he had nothing to his name other than someone else's story. Back then, he didn't think he'd make it out of that archipelago alive for one second. He couldn't remember the last time he felt this relieved that the Draches didn't have real windows. Knowing that the vessel was operational at all gave him a rush of giddiness and nostalgia that threatened to crumble into agonizing distress at any given moment. If any of the people on board had asked how he felt, he wouldn't have even been able to begin to describe it.

"Launch the Drache!" Teisel announced. He didn't even realize he'd said it. He could already tell that getting through the next few days would be a lot harder on him than any Reaverbot fight could ever be, but he would be back on solid ground again soon enough. There were a lot of cartoons for him to watch back at the base.

Of course, the only thing he could say for sure was that those Bright Bats were nothing short of the best friends he'd ever had, and that he felt ridiculously lucky to have them around for him. In that moment, that was all that mattered.


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