The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)
Fiona’s mine tunnel swirled around and headed up to the streets above. She, and the miner force that accompanied her, emerged into a simple building constructed over the mine entrance. The group emptied onto the village’s main street. It was a wide road, with houses on either side. Behind the miners and princess, the street led to the tunnel where the team had been attacked. In front, the road began to go up an incline to a large building. The building was the largest in town and built on the highest portion, with a round exterior and flat top that made it resemble a can of soup in shape.
The structure was multipurpose in design. The bottom floor housed offices, dorms, cells, a mess hall, and an auditorium. The second floor housed several conference rooms and lecture halls, and the third floor included a library, an Aqueenian ritual green space, and the mayoral office. A grand swirling staircase in the center connected all the floors.
Atypical to the building’s usual appearance, spikes had been set out around the perimeter, and a large bandit flag was planted on top of the building for all to see. The flag gently swayed in the wind from the highest point in the whole town.
Fiona’s troops became quiet and solemn as they stared at the building in front of them. They gripped their pickaxes tightly and began to march forward. Fiona gulped and walked along with them.
The second sun had set, and the streets were only illuminated by dim lamps and the half starry sky. Some citizens who would not participate in the battle came out and nodded to the passing miners to show their support.
Adan, the miner's safety officer, came up next to Fiona and matched her pace. She jumped slightly as she had not realized a second group had joined them.
“Guess we're going in the front door,” Adan said with a forced laugh.
“Is that bad?” Fiona asked.
“Depends on your perspective,” Adan replied.
Ahead of them, miners had reached the building’s front door and began to plant something down. They quickly backed up and covered their ears with their hands.
There was a moment of calm; then, an explosion ripped open the front of the building. Fiona jumped at the sight but kept moving forward to the building.
“That’s my cue,” Adan said.
As the explosion finished echoing through the village and building, the miners at the front made a battle cry. They all broke into a mad sprint to the door, with Adan quickly charging ahead of the rest.
Fiona locked onto the safety officer and zapped behind him just before he went through the threshold. The sight she was greeted with was a long hallway with a barricade at the end. Beyond which was an ample, open circular space that led to other hallways. The barricade was metal with spikes jutting out the front and an enormous Gatling gun mounted over the top. A bandit pair of a Hobusian and Netzian were sitting behind the barricade in shock by what was happening.
“Get to the auditorium!” Adan cried as he ran to the barricade and pointed to a door on his left. The only break from the long hallway was a set of doors on the side which led to a large hall and stage. Multiple entries in the room would allow them to bypass the barricade, and they began to charge into the room.
The guards at the barricade recovered relatively quickly. One quickly jumped on the Gatling gun and began to turn a massive crank, while the other called on the radio for backup.
Gear began to appear on Adan. He was quickly covered in a brightly covered safety suit, with padded coverings and a face shield. The suit was not meant for battle but rather working in harsh conditions. As he ran forward, regulation-compliant barriers and railings appeared on his left—one in front of the other to make a thick wall.
The Gatling gun opened fire, and Adan slowed down as he took the brunt of the laser blasts. The remaining troops ran behind the safety captain and used the barriers as shielding so that they could enter the auditorium. As the gatling fire tore Adan’s suit, new gear appeared to replace the broken parts before damage could be made to the Aqueenian inside. Scraps of discarded gear fell all around to the ground as he slowly made his way forward. After only a few steps down the hall, Adan’s suit was completely new in the front from all the heavy damage. His breathing was shaky, as he had never experienced anything like this moment before, but he continued pressing down the hall.
In the auditorium, the miners swiftly ran into the bandit reinforcements, and conflict broke out before the troops could make it any farther.
Fiona instinctively slid back as she laid eyes on the sight before her. Her breathing was uneven.
Calm down, and take a deep breath; Sun chimed within the princess's mind.
Fiona nodded and followed her Needaimus’ instructions. She closed her eyes for only a moment before opening them back on the sight.
Adan was making progress to the Gatling gun, but he was getting slower. The weapon itself showed no signs of overheating as it continued to direct fire on him.
Fiona took another deep breath and locked in on the gun. In a flash, she appeared behind it and the guards. The Hobusian guard on the radio was the first to notice the princess, but she swiftly delivered a high kick to his head. His bony crown shattered as he smashed into the ground, and Fiona quickly pulled the gunner off the Gatling gun. A swift knee to his stomach rendered the second guard out of commission. Adan made a sigh of relief down the hall as he let his battered gear fall to the floor and disappear. His sweat-covered face was the last thing to appear as the gear all dissipated away.
“Way to go, Lady Fiona!” the fan club trio yelled from the back of the hall.
“You three… go help the other troops….” Adan shouted, as best he could, through heavy breaths.
“Yessir!” the trio yelled before running into the auditorium.
“Are you alright?” Fiona yelled to Adan from behind the barricade.
“Dast. Thanks for your help, princess; I don’t think I could have held out any longer,” Adan shouted back as he settled on his knees.
Fiona didn’t get a chance to reply. From behind, she was suddenly grabbed and shoved into the ground by the calico Bentulousian.
“You shouldn’t let your guard down so easily, dear princess.,” Flora said in a sly tone as she loosened her grip on Fiona.
The warrior turned to Adan, who was still kneeling on the floor.
“Not good,” Adan said as he raised a shaky arm to point to Flora.
“Not good indeed,” Flora said with a disinterested tone. “You ruined my whole night, you know.”
Adan didn’t get a chance to reply as Fiona suddenly zapped into the air behind Flora’s head. She spun in the air and planted a kick in the side of the Bentulousian's head. Flora frowned but was otherwise unaffected.
She quickly grabbed Fiona’s leg, but Fiona zapped out of her grip before anything could be done. Flora laughed as she turned to the Aqueenian princess.
“I’ve been crushing so many ordinary Aqueenians; I forgot how robust a Needaimus could make you! No matter, it looks like you don’t know how to fight a Bentulousian at all.”
Flora charged across the room at Fiona before the princess could manage any kind of reply. She barely had time to zap out of the way before the impact came. The floor was shattered where Fiona had once stood.
Flora looked back to where the princess had reappeared and smiled.
“You’re good at running; I’ll give you that,” she said as she turned back to Fiona. The two continued to stare at each other as each anticipated the next move.