Chapter 76:

The Great Escape 1

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

Rheba held Hal in the air, with one hand holding the back of his shirt and the other hand holding the back of his leg. He flailed around, trying to escape her grip, but her strength overwhelmed his own.

“Unhand me!” Hal shouted.

“You said you would go,” Odell commented as he pushed the final few bars out of the way in the corner. There was now a hole just big enough for Hal to slip through to escape the cell. With the broken bars bent, he was at risk of getting snagged or cut if he didn’t slide through carefully. He had tried to protest as such, but Odell and Rheba expressed that he ought to hurry.

“I agreed to no such thing. The whims of my fellow journeyers have simply taken shape on their own!” Hal shouted back.

“You might want to straighten your arms out, or they could get caught on the sharp edges,” Rheba said as she moved her arms back in preparation to slide Hal forward.

Hal wanted to protest more but sensed that she would go through with it. He put his hands forward into a point like a diver might before jumping into the water.

Rheba swung Hal forward while gently lowering him to the floor. He gracefully slid forward through the created hole, across the floor, and impacted the wall on the other side of the room. Since his hands were out, he could stop himself before his head collided with the wall as well.

Hal stood up and brushed the front of his clothes off.

“Alright, now once you find our Needaimus, you can bring them right back here!” Odell said with a smile.

“Perhaps I ought to abandon you lot in favor of my own hide,” Hal said with a grumble as he continued to brush himself off.

“Thank you for all your hard work, Hal,” Rheba said with a polite bow. The emerald hair Netzian frowned and turned away.

“I shall return,” he said once his back was turned from the duo. He headed to the door and began to open it slowly. It creaked much louder than he, or the two in the cell, would have wanted.

Fortunately, as Hal poked his head out, he saw no one in the vicinity. None of the trio were aware, but the guard stationed at the door left to report all the noise they were making. The guard was currently seeking some support to go quiet down the prisoners.

Hal let out a sigh of relief before slipping out of the prison room. He shut the door gently and began to creep down the hallway with care.

The hallway was long and curved gently as it went around the building. Hal rolled his eyes at the Aqueenian inability to make straight rooms and started his walk. As he passed by a window, he could see that the second sun had already set. The dead of night would be upon them soon, and that would make for the most suitable time to escape.

The green-haired Netzian reached a fork in the hallway where he could go straight or turn. Hal opted to turn and go deeper into the building. If the Needaimus were still in the place, they would have them somewhere farther within.

Hal continued to sneak around and examine the building. He slowly opened a door and investigated the room. It was an empty office, with paperwork still left on the table. The dates were from over a year prior, and Hal guessed it was left in a rush when the bandits took over.

The next few rooms were in the same sorry state that the first was. The Netzian soldier sighed as he realized he was not getting anywhere.

Hal continued to walk down a hallway and turned another corner. He came face to face with a patrolling guard. The guard was a Netzian that wore similar dark clothing to the rest of the enemy. He had brown hair that went down to his chin and two pointy Bentulousian style ears on his head.

He stared at Hal with wide blue eyes.

“Your…” the Netzian began, but he was quickly kneed in the stomach by Hal. The green-haired Netzian collided his knee with the opponent's stomach. The brown-haired Netzian let out a gasp, took a step back, and began to put his fists up, but Hal was quicker as he got in close and delivered a series of punches that resulted in a knockout.

Hal quickly pulled his opponent's unconscious body into one of the abandoned office rooms. He stripped him of his clothes, leaving only the undergarments, and put them on himself.

With a change of clothes, Hal set out into the hallway once again; as he walked deeper into the facility. More of the enemy could be seen down the hallway, this time a set of two.

“I can’t believe we have to go search the mines….” one grumbled.

“Let’s just look around for a little and say that we couldn’t find them,” the other guard said back.

Hal made a salute to the duo as he passed. He pressed the thumb of his right hand on the right side of his chest. The palm faced downwards. The enemy duo awkwardly did the same as they passed.

“Who was that?” the first one said.

“Don’t know, probably some new guy. Haven’t seen anyone bother to salute in a while,” the second added as they went on their way.

Hal let out a little sigh as the change in clothes had been enough to avoid suspicion. He continued down his way until he found a new room.

As he entered, it was clear the room had once been a mess hall. There were still impressions on the floor from where tables had once sat, and some discarded, or perhaps thrown, food still stained some of the walls.

The room itself had been changed from an eating room into a giant science lab. Equipment sat on the floor with odd devices and vials of substances lining some of the tables. Many metal coffins, which Hal guessed must hold equipment, lined the walls beyond the tables. Savvy, who fiddled with the anti-needaimus glove she had used in the tunnel, stood at the end of the room.

“No, this isn’t quite right. There is still so much more that I can do,” she mumbled to herself while being oblivious to the fact that Hal was standing behind her.

The Netzian soldier, under normal circumstances, would have quietly backed out of the room and left the opponent that might recognize him alone. However, another sight in the lab caught his attention. Three glass domes were placed on the far side wall—in front of where Savvy worked. Each dome held one of the Needaimus in suspended animation.

Hal sighed to himself as he stepped forward into the lab.