Fanfiction: Hot Lead
by V Translanka
The air permeated with the stink of grease oil and super-heated copper. Lamplight gleamed off the wide circles of her glasses, but she suppressed the urge to smile at her newest creation. This was work of necessity, not of pleasure or invention. With a craftsman's delicate touch, she welded the energy capacitor's final wires and screwed the inner casing in place. Her father peeked over her shoulder, monitoring her work.
"There's no way to control the power output." He said, scratching the substantial scruff of his chin, "You'll only get a few uses before she burns herself out."
"You think I don't know that?" She said more harshly than she intended and continued in a softer, but no less determined voice, "It'll have to work as-is. I'll need the quick power despite its disposable quality. If it gets really bad I can just huck the thing and hope it explodes."
She had been proud of her air gun when she was younger. Figuring out the large super-compression device her father had kept in what passed for their living room (it loomed there still to her left beside the hall entrance) acted like a spark and she instantly saw it on the micro scale for a hand-held device. The actual size adjustment itself had taken her longer to achieve, necessitating weeks of solitude and agonizing over her failures, but when she finally managed it, she had done it alone and her sense of accomplishment was eclipsed only by her father's sense of pride. It was not her first invention, but it was her first complex device and it too would go on to spark more and more increasingly intricate machines (until eventually, in her mind, the air gun was little more than a toy). Someone in Porre, they wouldn't divulge whom, had taken her air gun and modified it to increase power to create what she referred to as a peashooter. Power was really irrelevant, she had tried to tell the merchants, it was about precision. As she pieced the last components of the trigger & barrel together and felt the weight of the grip in her hand, she wondered what the mystery Porrean would do if he or she got their hands on her new gun.
Regardless, neither of those older air pressure-based 'weapons' would help her against the armored guards on their own. She could use her hypnosis & pyrokinesis, but those things were not always reliable and used up far too much of her energy. There was no time for her to train those abilities like the heroes did in the comics her best friend was so enamored with.
My best friend. She thought as she checked her new weapon's sights and nodded with satisfaction.
"Are you sure about this, Lucca?", Taban finally asked the question she knew he had by that point been holding back.
"Sure as science.", Lucca replied, stuffing her long-handled mallet in her bag along with the new energy blast pistol and rushed out the door, leaving her father pondering her response.
It was dark by the time she got to the forest that sprawled out before the base of Castle Guardia, the great mountain looming beyond that. Moonlight poured through the gray-looking leaves of the trees and cast a ghost-like quality on everything she saw. Lucca moved in quick strides, but her eyes scanned the area in cautious, slow sweeps. There were still large insects and monstrous, living mushrooms, among other things, in the forest, but most of them only attacked reflexively. Raising the peashooter to her shoulder, she sniped a blue cockadoodle bird from its weary perch in the trees. She didn't want to take any chances and time was running against her. The sound the gun made was minimal, but a rustling from the bushes to her right made her stop in her tracks as she swiveled her weapon in its direction. A mamo jumped out, its snow-white fur almost glowing in the light, and before she could think to shoot, its stubby legs tripped over a stick and it couldn't seem to catch itself with its long, gangly arms before it toppled over face-first. It seemed so helpless, but it shot up immediately and ran off.
Her eyes followed the monster's erratic path and then came back to where it had fallen. The stick it had tripped over was about an arm's length, smooth and on one end was a protruding knot where it had split off into another branch. It looked like a long-barreled, wood gun. She realized she was smiling at it and an old memory bubbled up to the surface of her mind...
"What's with your hair?" One of them asked with a sort of half-squinted expression of confusion.
"Yeah, why is it that funny color?", The other one asked, over-emphasizing the word 'funny' as if it were a joke by itself, "Are you sick or something?"
Lucca Ashtear was seven or eight years old and on her first day of school two boys her own age had approached her off to one side before the school-day actually started. She was unfortunate in that she looked different from most children; her glasses were wide & thick in thin circular frames that dominated her face, she was skinny to the point of gangliness and her hair was a sort of pinkish purple color in an unflattering bob-style cut. She wished her mother had let her wear a hat, but most of all she wished the two boys, dirty from roughhousing and both brunette, would leave her alone.
"You're that crackpot Taban's daughter, aren't you?", the second boy said, pushing her back against a large boulder that kids usually played king of the mountain on during recess despite the teachers' warnings.
The boy's touch had left a smudge on Lucca's new green shirt and she frowned down at it as she whispered, "My father's not a crackpot..."
"Sure he is.", The boy said with a wide smile that exposed his missing eye teeth, "My parents were talking about how one of those things he made almost killed his own wife. How stupid can you get?"
She took a step forward, "Isn't." The word came out of her mouth flat, challenging, but he was a bully and heard the faint echo of fear at the last.
"You calling my parents liars?"
"My daddy's smarter than both your parents!"
He emphasized the word with a shove that knocked her back into the shadow of the boulder with a soft thud, but as he did something struck him in the forehead and he shuffled back, clutching the reddening welt already forming just above the center of his eyes. On the ground between them was a shiny river rock, so smooth it looked like it would skip itself. There was a scraping noise from behind and they all turned to see someone atop the boulder. The sun gleamed behind, turning the figure into a black silhouette against a bold, blue sky. All she could tell was that his hair was short & spiky and he held something almost as long as he was tall at his side. When she turned back to the boy who had shoved her, she noted that he was alone. Still defiant, he stepped into his next words until his accusing finger was almost touching Lucca again, "Stay out of this! She called my parents stupid!"
The boy figure on the boulder raised his arms and the object held was like an accusing finger of his own, pointed upwards into the heavens. The confusion at this obvious act of defiance was painted on the bully's face, but it was only when the figure actually leapt that his mouth gaped open and he turned to run. A thunderous crack came down in a blur of blue & red and the bully was thrown in an unconscious heap several yards away.
That was when she first saw him, sprawled out on the ground himself, having tripped over his own rock, looking up at her upside-down, his fiery red hair pointing at her feet, "Are you alright?", She asked and the infectious grin he gave her assured her that the only injury he had sustained was to his pride, "What did you...?", She started, her eyes darting from him to the other boy and he held up the stick in his right hand. It was broken now, a third of it hanging off, she could see the stumpy knot where a twig had grown off of it at one point. Taking hold of it, she made the one stick two, held hers by the protruding knot in one hand and smiled herself.
"I like your hair.", Lucca told him as he got to his feet, dusted himself off and pocketed his stone. He whipped his segment of the stick around a bit, seeming to be satisfied with the new balance the reduced weight created. She decided she liked him for his strangeness as well as his act of salvation and asked, "Do you wanna play guns?"
"Sure.", He said, "What's a gun?"
In her reverie she hadn't noticed that she had already made it to the entrance to the castle and in her shock she did not register the tears on her face nor even her wiping them away, though she smiled at the fading memory. The weight of a kingdom stood before her, like all kingdoms, built on blood as much as brick & mortar, but she was there to steal away just a bit of that former.
Two blue-garbed sentries stood to either side of the main entry, their arms held behind their straight backs in a very businesslike manner. They both eyed her as she made her way inside and one of them accosted her, "Now then, who are you?" While simultaneously the other asked, "What business do you have here?"
"I'm here for Crono." She said, swinging her gun into view, the torchlight shone across its weighty barrel. She could feel the steady rhythm of her heartbeat pulsing through her body up to the tip of her trigger finger, "Get out of my way."