Chapter 81:

Battle in the Lab

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

Hal stood in the lab with a distracted Savvy, and the three captured Needaimus. The tables around them formed a ‘U’ shape, and beyond the ‘U’ sat the series of metal coffins.

He took several cautious steps to the Hobusian scientist whose back was still turned. She was fixed on her work and completely oblivious to the approaching Netzian. Sparks bounced off the mechanical glove on her workbench as she began to brush a tool against it. As he crept through the room, Hal noticed a long object on one of the tables.

At a glance, it looked like a pipe, an oval-shaped tube that was slightly longer than his forearm, but closer inspection revealed it was some sort of gadget amongst Savvy’s many others that were laid out. Hal paid no mind to that, however, as he reached out and grabbed the pipe.

The Netzian soldier readied the object in his hand like a club as he continued to move in closer. As the distance shrunk, some soft hums from Savvy became audible. Hal pulled back his arm as he readied to strike the blissfully unaware Hobusian in the back of her head.

Then, an explosion in the distance shook the building.

Savvy suddenly turned around before the building was finished shaking. She had intended to run out of the room and straight to the source of the explosion. Instead, she stared up at the emerald-haired Netzian who was poised to strike.

Her eyes narrowed, and she quickly slid to the side before Hal could bring his weapon down. The pipe smashed into the ground. It made a metal clang with the floor as Hal turned to his opponent. She smiled.

“I see you managed to escape. Was that explosion your doing?” Savvy asked as she quickly moved behind Hal to avoid another of his strikes with the pipe. He spun around and faced his opponent. Savvy slid on a gauntlet she had laying on one of the tables as well as the anti-Needaimus one she had been working on only moments ago.

Savvy punched her two metal fists together, and they lit up with energy as she looked at Hal with a confident smile.

Hal didn’t say anything as he took a step back.

“I must say, you did pick up a good weapon of mine! However, without knowing how to use it, it is no better than a stick,” Savvy chided as she took a step toward Hal. He sighed as he jumped back onto the table where Savvy had been only moments ago.

“You’re just backing into a wall, you know?” Savvy said with a chuckle. “Even if you use that weapon to break the glass, I’ll just remove your Needaimus again,” She added as she held her anti-Needaimus glove out. Colorful sparks ran across her fingertips.

Hal didn’t respond as he swung Savvy’s weapon behind him. The glass containing his Needaimus, No. 5, shattered. In a flash, the Needaimus leaped out of the capsule. Hal made a confident sneer as his red Needaimus wrapped around his arm.

Savvy shrugged.

“You don’t listen, I see, and you’re a terrible conversationalist to boot.”

Hal lunged forward and smashed the pipe weapon into the ground. Savvy simply leaped back to avoid the blow as it made another loud clang. Before she landed, Hal’s hand disappeared into thin air next to him. As he pulled his arm back, he pulled out a long spear. His opponent gritted her teeth as she landed back on the floor.

Savvy jumped back once again to avoid Hal’s strike from the spear. The metal point of the weapon made a scraping sound as it slid on the hard floor, as Hal looked at his opponent in the eyes.

Savvy gently landed on the ground outside the range of Hal’s spear. She pointed a fist at him with the second glove that was not Anti-Needaimus. The glove was a cool silver, and the metal looked like it had been formed out of small scales. The glove glowed a hot red, and a flash of energy burst out. A red fist of energy flew across the room, and Hal’s eyes grew wide in shock as he leaped to the side. The energy fist destroyed the worktable behind him. He made a mental note that everything the Hobusian scientist made should be considered dangerous.

“Hmm, the intensity is still a little too high,” Savvy mused as she charged forward. Smoke trailed behind her from the glove as she got in close to Hal, who was still off-balance from dodging the blow.

The Anti-Needaimus gantlet forced No. 5 to fly off Hal’s arm with a simple tap. Hal slid a leg out to catch himself and swung the spear like a bat. Savvy used her red fist to break the long weapon in half. With her free hand, the scientist punched at his stomach.

He grunted and took a step back, just narrowly avoiding the punch. No. 5 quickly recovered and leaped back on Hal’s arm. Savvy put up her fists like she was a boxer. Hal’s face was filled with fury for a moment as he looked at his broken spear. He set the half in his hand gently down on a table and slid Savvy’s pipe weapon into his ability space.

Both his hands emerged from the invisible storage with something that resembled fingerless, metal gloves, which contained more iron knuckles. He held his arms up and charged at his opponent. They clashed with a blow to each of their chins, though the impact phased neither opponent.

What followed was a quick rapid succession of blows between opponents. Savvy used her heavy frame to stay in place and absorb impacts, while Hal used his swift movements to move around the Hobusian scientist and keep her unaware of the next strike. Whenever the Anti-Needaimus glove struck Hal, No. 5 was thrust off into the air. The red Needaimus would adjust and leap back on Hal’s arm as quickly as possible, but Hal would have to focus more on avoiding blows from his Hobusian opponent while disconnected.

Their rapid boxing match continued for several minutes, with neither opponent seeming to take that much damage. However, as the blows continued to trade, it became clear to Hal that he would lose the fight in the end. Once it occurred to him, he began to focus on the next moves he would make.

He soon leaped back as Savvy threw a heavy punch. She stumbled forward, having not expected Hal to jump back. Hal put his gloves back into his space and pulled out two flintlock-looking pistols in their place. Savvy took a step back as she expected Hal to fire at her. Instead, Hal spun around and shot the two remaining glass pods, which contained the other captured Needaimus.

It did not take the Needaimus long to figure out what was going on once free. They quickly jumped out of the pods onto the table Savvy had destroyed with her energy blast. Then, they jumped onto Hal’s shoulders, where they hung on tightly. Hal spun around to face Savvy; the two pistols let off smoke as they cooled down.

“You got them free, now what?” Savvy asked.

“Strategic withdrawal,” Hal said. He quickly slid his pistols back into his storage and charged at the Hobusian. It was easy for him to leap over her in a single bound.

As Hal landed on the floor, he kept charging for the door. Savvy sighed.

“Unlock protocol, operation: Hunt,” she suddenly shouted. From the side of the room, the metal objects that resembled coffins began to hiss and slide open.

Hal looked back for only a moment to see a metal army emerge from the coffins. They locked onto him with red, mechanical eyes.

Hal silently said the most profane curse on Resh under his breath as the mechanical troops began to chase him out of the room.