Chapter 138:

Shopping Center 3

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

Hal was annoyed for many reasons. The odd girl, Sabia, continued to walk alongside him and try to make idle chitchat, and he found it increasingly difficult to focus on the task at hand, but that was a minor issue. His real frustration came from who followed them. At some point, Odell and Fiona had found him. Instead of making themselves known so that Hal could excuse himself from Sabia, the royal pains had decided to follow behind in a manner that could be called anything but stealthy.

To make matters worse, the duo had no idea that the second pair of much more capable agents had been on their tail and ran across the rooftops of the shopping center.

The green-haired Netzian gritted his teeth as he thought. He could escape Sabia in a manner that would leave all four of those following them on his trail, but then he would have to deal with the extra two agents. He could also lose the agents, but Fiona and Odell would not be able to keep up with that maneuver. As Hal contemplated what to do, Sabia tried to get his attention.

“Hal, Hal!” she shouted until the green-haired Netzian noticed. She had pestered him for his name, and he regretted giving it immediately.

“Dast?” he said.

“I asked what your Needaimus does?” she pointed to the red No.5 bonded to his arm.

“I would not disclose my secrets so easily,” Hal said.

“Ah, I’ll tell you what mine does!” she protested. Hal gave her a confused glance, and she patted the long and skinny black bag on her arm.

“She’s a little longer than average, so I carry her around in a bag that looks like it would be for sports to avoid attracting attention,” the Aqueenian girl explained.

Hal had been completely fooled. He had assumed she played a sport on Resh known as Beizopol. It would seem like a cross between baseball, soccer, and equestrianism for someone from earth. Players riding horse-like beasts would have to hit a ball to a series of bases along a field.

The Netzian soldier reframed his understanding of the strange girl for a moment.

“Nevertheless, I will not disclose my secrets so easily,” he replied. Sabia frowned. As she did, an idea popped into Hal’s head. “However, I may disclose them if you provide aid,” Hal turned out to the crowd as he continued to speak. When he did, he saw the heads of Fiona and Odell for a moment until they disappeared behind cover. More importantly, he picked up on which rooftop the other two agents were hiding, though he focused on Odell’s and Fiona’s spot to avoid the additional pursuers from catching on.

“We have some pursuers that might be less than friendly,” Hal continued to explain as he looked out to the crowd. He could not see Sabia’s face, but she had no surprise in her expression. Instead, her face was cold and calculating as she quickly locked into where each set of spies was. The Aqueenian girl wrote off Fiona and Odell as goofballs and determined the two on the roof for the threat.

When Hal turned back to look at Sabia, she quickly made a shocked expression.

“Oh my! Pursuers! Do you have stalkers or something?” she asked in an innocent tone.

“Perhaps two annoying ones, but they are less critical at the moment. Don’t look, but two unsightly people are watching us from the rooftop behind me. Sabia did as asked and continued to look at Hal.

“What should we do?” she asked in a hushed worried tone.

“Should our Needaimus work in conjunction; we may be able to devise a plan,” Hal explained. Sabia nodded.

“My June can launch things at a great distance, but I don’t carry anything to fire around!” she explained in a hushed voice. That was a lie; she, in fact, carried small, spiked metal spheres wherever she went.

Hal nodded.

“No.5 allows me to have a storage space; I can provide an object for you to fire,” he explained. “Now, all we need is a plan of action. Hal could have pulled out a weapon, but he suspected the enemy of reacting as soon as they saw it. They would need to make it a surprise.

Sabia suddenly wrapped her arms around Hal in an embrace. In the distance, Fiona and Odell could be heard shouting ‘ooh.’ The Netzian soldier's face was bright red as Sabia’s green face came close.

“We can’t just stand around and talk; it would look suspicious to our pursuers,” she said.

Hal cleared his throat and took a breath to regain a stoic expression. He began to relay a simple plan, and Sabia nodded in agreement.

From atop the rooftop, Liv was smiling, and Felix shook his head.

“Isn’t it just wonderful, young love!” the Netzian agent said happily.

“They’ll break up in less than a week,” Felix grumbled his reply.

“You’re always so pessimistic; wouldn’t it hurt to smile once in a while?”

The Hobusian agent shook his head in reply. Optimism gets you killed in this line of work. Better to expect the worst, like those two might secretly be on to us and are plotting a retaliation,” Felix muttered.

“Come now, that is a bit much, even for you,” Liv said with a smile and shake of her head.

Felix didn’t reply. He observed with squinted eyes as Hal and Sabia broke from their embrace and headed around a corner while holding hands.

The unsuspecting Odell and Fiona made their way over to the corner as stealthily as possible. Other customers gave them odd looks as they walked while tiptoeing.

The agents atop the roof leaped across the buildings silently while all parties followed after the apparent lovers. They navigated across the jungle jim shopping center for several minutes until a long bridge came into view. It was a stretch that Hal was hoping to see. There was only one building behind Hal and Sabia. The more capable agents would have to jump to the rooftop, and Odell and Fiona hid near its side. Felix and Liv were in the air as they flew to the new rooftop when the ‘lovers’ looked right at them.

“Oh dear,” Liv said. Felix cursed.

Sabia quickly unzipped her bag and bonded to her Needaimus. Its rose-colored metal stretched out from her arm like a spear. After the metal gauntlet formed around her limb, she pointed the Needaimus at the agents in the air. Hal handed her a wrench from his ability space, and in an instant, the metal object was fired above the long extension like a bullet.

The metal wrench fired directly at Liv’s chest. Her partner quickly shoved her while midair, and the attack sliced across his arm. He grunted and held the slice as they landed on the rooftop.

“Are you okay!” Liv shouted.

“I’m fine, but we didn’t come here for a fight. Let’s fall back.”

The two spies quickly retreated from the rooftop leaving only The apparent lovers and royalty in the area. Sabia quickly pointed her Needaimus at Odell and Fiona. Odell’s hands shot up in surrender, and Fiona disappeared in a flash.

Hal put one hand over Sabia’s Needaimus. At the same time, he used his other arm to block a kick from Fiona, which had been aimed at the back of Sabia’s head, as she flashed into view.

The Netzian soldier sighed.

“I suppose explanations are in order,” he grumbled to his companions.