Chapter 85:

The Auditorium Fight Ends

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

Rheba and Odell, mostly Rheba, continued to support the fight in the auditorium. The Bentulousian warrior threw another of the bandits across the room. Odell continued to dodge blows.

It wasn’t long after the duo had joined that the tides began to turn for the Aqueenian miners. They were invigorated by the backup and motivated to keep fighting. They kept pushing on the bandits until all opponents were quickly taken down.

Once the last of the bandit’s forces fell, the miners let out a cry of victory.

“Don’t cry out just yet!” Rheba shouted over them; they looked up at her. “This battle has only just begun! Save your cheers for when we take the final victory!”

The miners let out another shout, but this time it was not one of victory, but one that showed the readiness for the next stage of the fight.

“I think you're taking this a little too seriously, Rheba,” Odell said through heavy breaths as he walked over to the tall Bentulousian. “They probably never thought they’d get this far anyway. They should celebrate that.”

“Who is in charge here?” Rheba ignored Odell’s comments as she addressed the force.

“That would be Adan or Lady Fiona, but both of them remained in the hallway!” a member replied.

“We need to go check on Lady Fiona!” another added.

“She should be fine; we should–“ Rheba didn’t finish before a trio of miners ran back out the door while shouting, “Lady Fiona!”

The other miners could not tell due to the difference between a flat Aqueenian face and an elongated Bentulousian face, but Rheba had a look of frustration. She struggled to keep her composure so that her body language did not betray her. After taking a deep breath, she spoke:

“Odell, go back the way we came with some troops. We never did run into Hal, and we need to get our Needaimus back. The rest of us and myself will head into the building and try to find their leader.”

“Let’s do it!” someone in the crowd shouted as Rheba turned to Odell. She handed him a sword from one of the fallen bandits.

“Can you handle yourself if you get into a fight?” she asked to confirm.

Odell gave a thumbs up.

“Once I get Cal back, I’ll be good in any fight.”

“Hmm, in my culture, we say a warrior that relies solely on a Needaimus isn’t a warrior at all.”

Odell grabbed the sword from Rheba and sighed.

“I’m not a warrior, just a prince,” he said as he turned to the door. “Don’t worry, there weren’t any opponents back where we came,” he added before running out of the room.

Rheba bit her lower lip. She wasn’t sure about sending Odell on his way, even if a couple of miners did clumsily follow after him. She shook her head to shake off the thoughts. The battle was more important, and it would not be won if she was impractical.

Odell and three miners ran out the door he had entered with Rheba only moments before. They began to sprint down the long, quiet hallway. Only the footsteps of their running echoed through.

“I hate to ask this, but are you any good in a fight, Hobusian?” one of the miners asked Odell.

“Once I get my Needaimus, I will be instrumental in winning this fight!” Odell responded with faux confidence.

“Hmm,” was the only reply he got from the skeptical miners.

They continued to run down the hallway and turned several corners. Odell looked around frantically, but he had no idea where he ought to be running to.

They turned another corner without breaking their sprint and were greeted with a new sight.

“One of the bandits!” a miner shouted as he and the others readied their pickaxes.

Odell, on the other hand, smiled. Hal ran down the hallway, with Rheba’s purple Needaimus hanging on his right shoulder and a familiar green Needaimus hanging on his left. Behind Hal, chased a force of mechanical robots with thin but Hobusian-esque forms. Odell had never seen such machines in his life; they were purely a creation of Savvy.

“What are those! They look awesome! Oh, Hal, good to see you too,” Odell yelled to his ally. The Aqueenian miners relaxed some as Odell acknowledged the newcomer.

“I returned, but you had already escaped your confinement!” Hal shouted back to Odell. He pointed a pistol in his right hand back at the pursuing machines and fired blindly without turning to look at them. The laser shot sailed past the metal frame of the robots.

“Sorry about that; hey, can you throw me, Cal?” Odell yelled back as he looked around Hal to evaluate and admire the mechanical warriors. He was hoping he could examine the unique sight after the battle.

Hal slid his weapons back into his space and grabbed each Needaimus off his shoulder with a hand. His yellow eyes moved back and forth as he examined each of the Needaimus he had with him. It had just occurred to the Netzian soldier that he did not know which was Odell’s.

“Time is too short to contemplate,” Hal said to himself as he threw both Needaimus at Odell.

Odell’s eyes widened as the Needaimus came soaring his way like they were fastballs. The Hobusian prince stretched out his broad hands to catch each.

Cal, Odell’s green Needaimus, made contact first and quickly bonded to Odell’s arm.

Odell almost fell onto his face as he stretched out to catch Rheba’s purple Needaimus. He managed to catch himself by sliding a foot farther out before completely falling.

I can’t believe you had him throw me! Cal yelled into Odell’s mind. As carefully as possible, Rheba’s Needaimus, Mini, made its way to Odell’s shoulder. It seemed to sway and stars floating around its head would have made a fitting image to show how it felt.

Odell ignored the comments of Cal, who was continuing to yell at him and steeled himself to fight their mechanical opponents.

Hal reached Odell; the machines stopped in the hallway and spun around to face them. They began to compute that a second Needaimus mortal was facing them.

The standoff was quickly disrupted as Harlan and Icarus came crashing through the window only moments later.

Icarus was the first to recover as he looked around at the scene. The Aqueenian miners behind Hal and Odell readied their pickaxes as they stared down the new foe, but Icarus didn’t notice them at all.

“I can’t catch a break,” the golden Zenotote groaned.