Chapter 58:

A Stop at Qu

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

None of the group got to sleep very much. In the middle of the night, a rainstorm came in from nowhere, and they were forced to take shelter within cramped Ali for the remainder of the night. It wasn’t until it cleared up sometime in the early morning that Odell was able to complete his so-called flux tape repairs, and the group glided out of the farmland back into the plains.

The path remained much of the same open plains the group had seen at the beginning of their journey, and they drove with little conversation.

Several hours passed when the scene began to change. Out in the distance of the plains, a city was starting to come into view. Like the capital, Quenth, the buildings were made of swirling and ornate architecture. However, unlike Quenth, the buildings were shorter, wider, and appeared to be made from a painted stone rather than the chrome exteriors of the capital city.

This was the city of Qu. The first stop for the group before they would reach Nun. It was a small town relative to the capital but still bolstered a reasonably large population. The wider buildings housed many factories and manufacturing plants, and the Aqueenians who lived in Qu were often thought of as “rougher” than their compatriots from Quenth.

Through great luck, or perhaps great misfortune, the Ali gave out as soon as it entered the manufacturing town.

Odell banged on the dashboard for a moment as he tried to fire the vehakul back up. When it became clear that the Ali would not move, he looked back to the passengers to deliver the bad news:

“Someone’s going to have to push.”

A trio of Gwyn, Hal, and Rheba was quickly elected to push, and they found themselves shoving the Ali through the streets of Qu. Odell remained in the driver's seat to steer and keep the Ali hovering over the ground.

“Hey Rheba, didn’t you lift that big guy back in the war room? Is it possible to do something like that now?” Gwyn asked through a heavy breath as he pushed the Ali. He vaguely recalled watching Rheba lift the heavy Hobusian, Platon, and hoped she could still apply some of that strength.

“That was with the aid of my ability; I cannot use it here,” Rheba answered as she applied her force.

“Talk is for the wind. Strength of body is required here,” Hal grumbled to the other two as he put his effort in.

They managed to get the vehakul to a garage, where Odell quickly got into an argument with the mechanics about how repairs ought to be conducted. The group's remaining members spread out among the garage lobby, and they looked for things to stave off boredom.

Fiona quickly fell asleep in a corner where some chairs sat. Gwyn curiously flipped through some magazine equivalents set on a table. Rheba sat on the floor and entered a meditative state. Harlan began to determine a formula to estimate how many speckles were in the ceiling tile, and Hal stood with his arms crossed, staring out to the city.

Odell had assured them that repairs would only take a moment. They agreed that they would wait for him.

The Needaimus, like their partners, did not have anywhere to go and quickly found a corner where they could discuss amongst themselves.

Mem let out a sigh.

“Is such secrecy necessary?” it asked in the least hushed whisper of the group. The blue Needaimus was quickly knocked over the side of the head with a double smack from Sun and Cal, Fiona’s, and Odell’s Needaimus, respectively.

“You really are trouble,” Harlan’s orange Needaimus, that went by Mirror, spoke up while shaking its head. Being separated from Harlan, it looked like some sort of lizard creature with rabbit ears.

“I’m just saying,” Mem muttered while folding its wings across each other like they were two arms.

“Have you learned nothing from past history?” This time Hal’s red Needaimus, No. 5, spoke up. It was red and resembled something like a swordfish with long legs.

“You’re wasting your breath with this one,” Rheba’s purple Needaimus, Mini, chimed in. It was purple and resembled a humanoid shape with four arms and four legs.

“Technically, we don’t breathe,” Mem chimed in with a chuckle. That prompted it to receive several more blows to the head.

“I worry for your mortal,” Sun said with a shake of its head.

“Indeed, Gwyn found himself a troublesome Needaimus,” Cal added. The others, save for Mem, nodded in agreement.

“He’ll be fine! I’m sure he will get along just fine,” Mem said as it began to open its wings. With several flaps, Mem took to the air over the heads of the other Needaimus.

“You really intend to leave?” Mini asked.

“I’m going to check out the city!” Mem declared.

“What if you aren’t back before we leave?” Sun asked.

“It will be fine!” Mem said to the small crowd.

Unfortunately, the best-laid plans of Needaimus often go awry. As Mem was pushing itself out the window, a stray ball from some children playing smacked the mechanical creature in the head. It didn’t hurt, but Mem jumped back in shock with two powerful flaps of its wings. It overshot and flew into a ceiling fan.

After spinning around for a moment, Mem was thrown out, ricocheted off a wall, and promptly landed in a surprised Gwyn’s lap.

“Ah, Mem!” Gwyn shouted as he almost threw the magazine out of his hands.

Mem sighed as it got in a comfortable position.

“Whatever, I’ll just stay here longer,” Mem said as it curled up into a sleeping position

“I swear, you’re like a cat….” Gwyn grumbled as he turned his attention back to the magazine.

The other Needaimus curiously looked out the window at the children.

“Did you see that curve! That was incredible!”

“I told you I could do it!”

“No, that was the wind!”

The children all yelled to each other as they retrieved their ball and continued playing.

At the same time, Odell emerged from the shop area of the garage with a satisfied look on his face.

“We have reached a solution, and the Ali should be ready before midday,” he told the group. Gwyn and Fiona, who woke up briefly solely for Odell’s announcement, groaned in unison with the declaration they would have to wait longer.

“Thank you for the update, Odell. We appreciate all your hard work.” Rheba replied without breaking from her meditative pose.

“Gee, thanks!” Odell almost shouted back with great enthusiasm. He returned to the shop to begin the repairs.