Chapter 148:

Fiona and Harlan Get Backstage

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

Beauideal guards were one of the most interesting around. Often they were selected since they were avid fans of the stars. After becoming a guard, they were given the most intense and all-encompassing military and combat training funded by private individuals. An increase in muscle mass and extensive mental training were required before they could be given a job in their new field. The guards had to be equipped to take down rabid fans, angry beauideals, and occasional crazy people if the situation called for it, and mistakes were heavily scrutinized. Whether facing Needaimus, magic, or skilled martial artist, the guards needed to be able to win.

A typical beauideal guard wore matching black coats with black ties, which looked like a cross between a suit and a wizard's cloak. It was rare to see their eyes as they always hid them under dark sunglasses. Their faces were stoic, only allowing emotion when in the presence of their favorite star. The only color allowed on the uniforms were buttons with beauideal faces.

It was only due to the relative low number of guards and the fact they were all enthusiastic fans under oath to guard the beauideals, which kept other countries from worrying about the private army.

From down a long hall, Harlan and Fiona peaked out around a corner. A guard stood with his arms crossed and a frown on his face in front of a door to the backstage.

The particular guard went by Batty; all guards used nicknames when on duty. Three Dia Mond pins lined his neat uniform. He was a Netzian with a round, baby face. Slitted yellow irises would have been visible if his sunglasses had not covered his eyes.

“He looks mean,” Fiona whispered to Harlan.

“All Beauideal guards do,” Harlan replied as she spied down the hall. Batty was already aware of the two, but he continued to stare straight as if he was oblivious.

The duo retreated from the corner and discussed out of Batty’s view.

“I don’t think we can sneak past him; maybe there is another door?” Fiona asked. Harlan shook her head.

“There’s another one just like him at each door. We will just have to be clever,” she answered.

The two began to discuss potential plans with what they had available.

Batty, meanwhile, began to relax after the two disappeared. He figured they were two fans who eagerly wanted to meet a particular beauideal; it was common for him to see. What was more pressing to the guard was finishing his shift and getting to the audience for Dia’s concert-match. It was typical for guards to be given breaks during their favorite stars time on stage.

As he was gleefully thinking of his next break while still maintaining a stern face, Fiona zapped behind him. She had figured to lock on to the door behind the guard before retreating for ease of using her ability. Unfortunately, her ability marked her coming with a bright flash of blue light, which was not left unnoticed by the guard.

Batty immediately turned around, but Fiona teleported away from him before he finished. The guard only faced the closed door. He was not unwise, however, and spun around. Harlan had quickly closed the gap between the hallway corner and the guard, but she was not prepared for him to turn around immediately.

The green Zenotote had intended to strike the guard in the neck to render him unconscious, but the guard was too quick. He grabbed the hand that reached out to strike him and flipped Harlan over his shoulder. She crashed onto the floor with the door on one side of her and Batty on the other.

The guard quickly assessed. First, he noted Harlan’s Needaimus, then recalled two faces he had noticed before. Given the Needaimus and movement, he knew they were not fans and had to be on full alert for whatever abilities could come.

The guard cautiously flipped Harlan onto her stomach and twisted her arm behind her. He couldn’t be sure what her ability was and sought to use pain to restrain her movements. Then he began to scan the hallway for Fiona.

Batty had not realized that Harlan expected every movement he made and planned accordingly. She knew where she would land and how she would position, which put her in the perfect position to open the door with her scaly tail. As she opened it, Fiona popped out from around the corner. Batty was aware of the door opening and Fiona’s appearance. He quickly guessed what would happen next but could not stop Harlan and Fiona from disappearing in a flash of light.

The guard stumbled as his grip on the Zenotote scientist was lost. He quickly recovered and entered the backstage. The area was a long series of connecting hallways that led to dressing rooms for each beauideal. He quickly looked up, expecting opponents to drop down; when no attack came, Batty could only assume they had used the teleporting ability to flee swiftly into the hallway. He grunted as he pulled out a radio.

“This is Batty; two unexpecteds just entered the back. One Aqueenian girl, likely 14 or 15, and another Zenotote girl, likely 15 or 16. Both have Needaimus; one can teleport to some extent,” he reported.

“Batty! How could you let them slip by!” another guard echoed through the radio.

“Don’t worry, execute backstage plan 42, a second voice said.”

“Yes, commander,” Batty replied.

The whole forces of guards were immediately alerted to the intruder’s presence. While a number stayed at doors to keep more from entering, the remaining guards were rallied to hunt down the intruders.

Deep within the halls of the backstage, Fiona and Harlan came to a stop in front of a door. Fiona was breathing heavily while Harlan looked around the hallway. She had teleported Harlan and herself down the halls randomly to avoid the guard giving chase.

The Aqueenian princess discovered two things; the first was that she could not zap others as far as she could herself, which led to an increase in the number of times they had to reappear. The second was that rapidly moving someone and herself over a great distance could quickly cause overexertion.

Harlan could tell Fiona was exhausted, but she knew they had to keep moving before they got caught. As if to answer the Zenotote scientist's concerns, footsteps that sounded like a marching army began to echo down the halls in both directions. The guards had already caught up.

“They’re faster than the guards in Quenth,” Fiona said through heavy breaths.

“Beauideals cause an increase in motivation,” Harlan muttered as she looked around. With few options available, she grabbed Fiona by the arm and ducked into the room they stood by.

As the door shut, Harlan came face to face with two familiar beauideals.

Two pointed ears twitched as the beauideal Kitten stared at the duo with a comically surprised face. Off to the side of the room, Scarlet sat on a couch with wide eyes.