The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)
The beauideal fight continued to go on with each side trading blow after blow. Dia kept the show of the battle in her focus, but Harlan and Fiona were quickly defaulting to standard, unappealing brawling techniques to try and get the upper hand.
Fiona’s teleporting kept the green beauideal from claiming a quick victory. She counted on taking out Harlan first and then finishing off the princess. However, since Fiona could also move Harlan, the star could not catch either one.
To make matters worse, Harlan had not used her ability during the fight, as far as Dia could tell. She did not know what to expect from the Zenotote scientist but assumed it might be something that could one-shot her if she was not careful.
Fiona and Harlan had hoped that two-on-one would be an advantage, but Dia continued to show her prowess when put in a concert-match fight. Every move they made was countered elegantly, and her singing didn’t miss a beat even though most of it was improv.
In a private section of the viewing seats, Kitten and Scarlet had watched the match with bated breath.
“I’d hate to admit it, but she’s not number one for nothing….” Scarlet muttered sadly.
“Don’t talk that way!” Kitten shouted back. Her pointed ears hung low, betraying her attitude as she watched the match.
Fiona gritted her teeth as she zapped next to Harlan for what felt like the hundredth time in the match. In the last attempt to attack the star, Dia had landed a blow on the covered scar on Fiona’s back. It hadn’t hurt, but the princess was again reminded of unpleasant memories. She shook her head.
The winged Aqueenian was fighting her mind as much as her body, and the princess felt a toll.
Harlan looked around at the crowd. She was trying to keep the many eyes staring at her out of her mind, but the more they shouted and cheered, the more they weighed on her mind. She squeezed her forearm tightly with her free hand in an attempt to draw some of her attention to something else.
Dia smiled as she stared down at her opponents from the air. She could tell the public battle was beginning to drain them. Her eyes moved in an odd way which was unnoticed as she remained far away from anyone.
I would wait after a couple more lines… give them some time to try one last counterattack to make sure there are no more tricks. X echoed in her mind.
Dia’s eyes darted around again.
No, waiting is best, X confirmed in reply to her rapid eye motions.
Every experienced beauideal, and warrior for that matter, eventually learned that nonverbal communication with their Needaimus was critical in a battle. Each came up with a technique in tandem with their partners for crucial moments. Some moved fingers, some had a series of hums, and many more methods for communication existed.
X’s advice was something Dia ordinarily took lightly in most situations, with the exception being battle. She had never gotten bad advice from her partner and hung in the sky to continue singing.
“♪Poor, poor souls. Your misfortune will be for all to recall and see. Your final moments will be engrained in their memories.♪” she sang to chide the duo into action.
Harlan looked nervously around at the crowd and then to Fiona, who clearly held a lot of tension in her back. The Zenotote scientist was out of options of what to use her ability on in the mechanical arena, save for herself. She took a deep breath and sang out to her teammate.
“♪Fiona, my ally, please get me up high, then this opposing beauideal will be plucked from the sky. Her wing will be clipped, and she will be brought to her knees.♪”
The crowd gasped at her declaration as the blue princess tilted her head to the side. Harlan pointed to the Needaimus on her scaly leg, and Fiona’s eyes lit up.
In a flash, the blue princess was in the sky again. She boldly sang with the music.
“♪The time has come for you to get taken down!♪”
Fiona kicked at Dia, and the winged Aqueenian spun in the air to dodge. Harlan took a deep breath and let her ability tear through her body as she was enveloped in a teleporting flash.
The time between Harlan’s disappearance and reappearance seemed much longer than it actually was for the winged Aqueenian. She focused carefully on every spot around her in preparation for the attack. All the while, Fiona sang.
“♪You see, Harlan is more than she seems; she’s got a secret move; like a flower, she can bloom!♪”
As if Fiona planned it, a moment she would never be able to repeat, Harlan reappeared and kicked Dia in the back on the word ‘bloom.’ The force from the blow was enough to send the winged Aqueenian crashing into the ground below. She managed to twist her wings in a manner to soften the crash but rolled several times before regaining her bearings.
Harlan landed on the ground with a thud while Fiona flashed next to her.
“♪Here she is, Blossoming Harlan!♪” Fiona said as she gestured to her teammate. The crowd cheered. “You look so cool, Harlan!” the blue princess added while forgetting to sing.
The Zenotote scientist had deviated far from her original species. Her scales had melted away into soft but tough green skin. The sharp teeth in her mouth had dulled some save for a stubborn one that seemed to stick out on one side. The frills on her head had grown long and split into fibers that resembled hair more than anything else and hung well past her waist. Instead of her face becoming more elongated, it had become flatter and sculpted. Much as Harlan wanted to deny it, she resembled a Netzian or an Aqueenian more than a Zenotote when she entered the form her ability granted. Her slitted eyes looked shyly at the ground.
The crowd was in awe. While she seemed to have deviated far from a Zenotote, she didn’t resemble any customarily seen hybrids. She didn’t have the gleam of an Aqueenian or the mammalian nature of a Netzian that they would look for. For everyone in the crowd, it was like seeing a new species for the first time.
Dia found her footing and stared at the new form of Harlan. She rubbed her back as the blow from the modified scientist still stung.
“♪You forgot to sing,♪” Harlan replied to Fiona. Her voice had changed to a deeper but gentle tone that, with a slight whisper, caused the crowd to shiver.
Harlan faced her opponent as the countdown for her change appeared in the corner of her field of vision. She didn’t have much time in the form, and ugly as she saw it, she needed to use it effectively while it lasted.