Chapter 61:

Mountain Tunnel 1

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

Odell stopped the Ali just before they left the tunnel. The window on his side opened up, and he stuck his head out.

"Hey! Get out of the way!" he shouted.

The silhouettes began to walk forward. They exited the light from outside the tunnel and walked up to the Ali. Odell turned on a spotlight to shine on the duo.

The first was a Bentulousian. She was tall, standing at least a head over Rheba, with a pattern that resembled a calico cat. In particular, her head was black on the right side, orange on the left, and white from her neck to her nose. Two yellow eyes glowed in the reflection from Odell's light.

The Zenotote looked tiny next to his Bentulousian companion, though he was of average height. His scales were a dirty gold, and his eyes a crimson red. His face was long, with several spikes at the end of his nose that might have resembled piercings.

Both members of the duo were dressed in simple black and grey outfits. They were loose-fitting and plain, and each had cloaks that dropped down to their knees. The cloaks were sleeveless, each on the right arm, and each arm had a Needaimus on it.

The Needaimus had been painted black, and only minor scratches from past fights revealed the colors they had once been. The Needaimus were also oddly bonded to each arm. The ends of each mechanical creature appeared to grow like roots up the arms and necks of the newcomers.

"Who are you?" Odell asked after a moment of staring at the odd duo. In the back of the Ali, the others were quietly discussing to themselves.

"I thought this was an Aqueenian village," Rheba said slowly while reaching out her arm to her Needaimus.

"They must be visitors," Fiona speculated in a hopeful manner.

Harlan shook her head as her Needaimus, Mirror, bonded to her leg.

"You may call be Flora, boy; now you owe me. Please jump out of that vehakul," The Bentulousian answered Odell in a firm but friendly voice.

Odell immediately did as asked; in a flash, he flung the door open and leaped out of the Ali. He made several rolls on the ground before he could break free from her command. His eyes were wide with shock.

The others in the Ali jumped at the sudden movement from Odell. However, before any more actions could be made, each member in the Ali and the Ali's doors were suddenly covered in a series of tiny, waxy wings. They dotted along the bodies randomly like a series of insect bites. The wings took flight, and the remaining team spilled out onto the ground outside the Ali. They were forced out of whatever door was closest to them and ended up on all sides around the vehakul.

"Honestly, Flora," the golden Zenotote shook his head. With a wave of his hands, the sprouted wings dragged the team forward, and they floated in a straight line just above the ground. Wings grew on Odell, and he joined the team in their capture.

Odell and Fiona flailed around. Gwyn tried to shake off the wings. Rheba tried to force movement with a test of strength. Hal watched with disinterest. Harlan cautiously examined everything; she was the only one who had managed to bond with her Needaimus.

"Well, well, well. What an interesting little group we have here!" Flora chirped as she eyed the collection of Resh's species," Look, Icarus, there is even one that can be your wife!" she elbowed her companion as she eyed Harlan. Though, the attention was truly on the Needaimus bonded to the yellow-green Zenototes leg.

The Zenotote called Icarus sighed.

"Would you please stop trying to marry me off! I'd never wed one that hideous anyway," he spat in a similar manner to someone young when teased.

Flora just laughed and then began to pace in front of the team.

"Now then, what shall we do with this group. We have a couple of strong ones that could work in the mines, well expect for this one," Flora stopped to eye Gwyn's skinny arms and smooth hands for a moment before continuing. "But before that, I'd like to get to know you all. What brings you all out here? Why do you have a Needaimus with you? Why don't you tell me everything?"

"Villain, we will tell you nothing!" Rheba spat as she suddenly jerked her arm to escape. The small wings attached jerked her arm back to where the duo wanted.

Flora frowned.

"So serious, you must be directly from Benlou with that attitude...." Flora mused.

"Flora, mind the time," Icarus chimed in as visible beads of sweat began to roll down his face. Some of the small wings on the struggling Odell and Fiona dissolved, and their movement was increased, but they were not set free.

Flora sighed.

"I suppose our time here has been cut short, but we will have plenty of time to catch up in the mines! Now why don't you all come this way," Flora said with a slight wave as she turned around.

The team began to slowly float forward outside of the cave as they were dragged by their captors.

Back in the Ali, the other Needaimus had gone unnoticed. They quietly discussed amongst themselves.

"What do we do!" Cal, Odell's Needaimus, shouted as it began to panic.

"Calm down!" No. 5, Hal's Needaimus almost shouted as much as the hushed volume would allow. It ended up coming out as more of a hiss.

"Wait, Ga-Mem can fly; we can secure an escape yet!" Mini, Rheba's Needaimus, chimed in with a sort of ah-ha tone.

The others turned to Mem, who promptly looked back as if they were looking at something behind.

"I can't help you; my partner's ability won't help against that foe," Mem explained after making a sort of sigh and shrug movement.

"But you can carry one of us," Cal suddenly said. If the Needaimus could make expressions, it would have worn a smile.

"Who goes, though?" No. 5 asked.

The Needaimus looked back and forth for a moment before a volunteer appeared.

"I'll go," Sun, Fiona's Needaimus, chimed in.

Mem peaked out the window to see the team starting to get pulled away. The dragon-like Needaimus shook its head.

"We have to be quick then," the Mem answered.