Chapter 187:

Highway Driving

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

The highway was wide and mostly empty, which made it perfect for the inexperienced, blue princess to learn how to drive. Liv covered her eyes, and Felix’s face had practically gone white multiple times as the Aqueenian princess swayed across lanes without signaling or checking her mirrors, pressed the gas too hard, slammed on the brakes, and occasionally shouted curses at other lone drivers if they got too close.

While her captive passengers feared for their lives, Fiona was pleased as she got more comfortable. Aqueenian royalty didn’t have to drive themselves anywhere—chauffeurs were always available. The blue princess smiled as she imagined herself as the first royalty to drive a vehakul in generations. She planned to brag to her siblings as soon as she got home. Felix whispered prayers to Crenassul and the other ancients, despite not believing in the old stories. Liv wished she had finished her will when her Hobusian partner tried to convince her it was a good idea.

Fiona happily relaxed her shoulders and changed lanes to go around a lone vehakul. She quickly zipped past. The other hovering car slowed down to create as much distance between them and the crazy driver as possible.

The only benefit to Fiona’s driving was that they would make great time.

Down the highway, on a bridge that crossed it, Thorir crouched as he stared out at the traffic. Sabia approached from behind and shook her head.

“You don’t really intend to jump, do you?” the green Aqueenian girl asked as she bonded her long Needaimus to her arm.

“I do, I will smash that puny vehakul like a bug, and then we can go raid the hospital.”

Sabia rolled her eyes as she pulled out several small thorny spheres and aimed down the highway. The Ali-442 was quickly coming into view.

“What if I snipe them first?” she asked.

Thorir wasn’t given time to reply. Within seconds of asking her question, Sabia fired three rounds. The aim was perfect, right at Fiona’s head, but the attacked bounced off the windshield without leaving a scratch. For her part, the inexperienced Fiona thought they had just hit some bugs.

Thorir let out a hearty laugh.

“What was that?” he roared.

“I didn’t expect them to have reinforced glass….”

“Sure enough, my plan is best,” Thorir said as he began to stand on the edge of the bridge. The Ali was quickly approaching.

“You sure you can time that right without a Needaimus?” Sabia asked as she began to walk to their own vehakul. It was a skinny machine that closely resembled a hovering motorcycle. The rider sat in the center with two spherical hovering apparatuses in front and behind them.

“Needaimus are for fools who can’t do anything,” Thorir replied before he jumped off. Fiona let out a yelp as she saw him falling right; a loud thud told her he had landed on the roof. At the same time as the yellow-haired Netzian leaped, Sabia fired up her bike and sped off the bridge. She landed softly right behind the Ali.

Felix and Liv forgot their fear of Fiona’s driving as the opponents made their presence known.

“We have two attackers,” Felix shouted, “One on the roof and one behind on a Sar-475.”

“I don’t know vehakuls! Be more clear!” Liv shouted as she pulled out a short dagger

“The one you ride like an animal!” Felix shouted back as he produced a small flintlock-looking pistol.
Thorir had begun to pound electrified fists into the roof of the Ali, but the top did not give way to his blows, and as far as he could tell, the current did not reach those inside. He grumbled and checked his feet.

The brutish Netzian had once discovered running electricity in a certain way allowed him to stick to the metal as if he was pulled to it, Thorir was not well-read enough to understand the mechanics, but he knew how to use it in combat.

He carefully navigated to the side of the vehakul, defying gravity as he hung off like a wing, and looked through the tinted glass at his opponents.

“Weaklings,” Thorir said solemnly as he crouched on the side and smashed his fist into the glass. Felix and Liv jumped and readied their weapons. Thorir began to hit the side repeatedly. A small fracture eventually appeared. He nodded to himself and continued his barrage.

Sabia, on the vehakul, shook her head and aimed her Needaimus at the Ali’s back window. Her ability could vary the firing intensity, and she cursed at herself for assuming the glass was normal the first time. Several thorny spheres were shot and the glass cracked with each blow.

“Princess! You better have some good equipment on this thing!” Felix shouted as he switched his gaze back and forth between the cracking windows.

“I… I…” Fiona muttered as she looked around the dashboard. Odell had clearly added features, but his lack of labeling frustrated the blue princess.

She shook her head and settled on a red one just by the wheel; red seemed like the best color for desiring something to happen. The Ali shook, then fabric shot out and inflated from the sides. Odell had meant it to be for emergency water crossings, but in the current situation, it was the perfect non-magnetic feature to throw Thorir off the side.

He quickly shifted to a roll as the Ali sped away; his magically reinforced body protected him from dying, but it hurt far worse than he would have liked. He stood up in a flash and roared to the sky.

“Not the time,” Sabia said as she pulled the Sar close, “get on before they get away.”
Thorir lifted Sabia from the handlebar by the back of her shirt, much to the green Aqueenian's dismay, and jumped on in her place.

“I’ll drive, you shoot,” he grunted.

“You can be amazingly practical at times like these.”

The vehakul sped down the highway in pursuit of the Ali. Sabia kneeled on the backseat and used Thorir’s wide shoulder as support to aim her long Needaimus. She fired several more precise shots at the back window.

“Their coming again!” Liv shouted to Fiona.

“Try the big gun!” Fiona shouted. She had just remembered the weapon they had used on the Japhinth was stored under the floor. After some explanation and instructions, Felix hoisted the large Gatling gun out of the top panel on the Ali. He mounted it and aimed it at the pursuing bike.

“Is that?” Sabia asked.

“Big gun, nothing to worry about,” Thorir grunted.

“Dodge, you fool!”

Felix turned the crank, and a flurry of laser fire poured on the street behind the Ali. Thorir weaved the hovering bike back and forth across the highway while the Hobusian chased after them with the attack.

Liv leaned forward and eyed the buttons on the dashboard.

“That pink one is kind of cute,” she said while pointing to a heart-shaped button.

Fiona pressed it without a second thought. A large spear shot out in front of the Ali. It was large and wide enough to easily pierce a vehakul in the front if one had been in the transports way.

“Oh, watch out for the cute ones,” Fiona said in shock as she pressed it again. The weapon retracted as if it never had been there.

“If you’re going to help me, then do something!” Felix shouted. The gun was getting close to overheating, and he had not managed to hit the oncoming vehakul.

“Dodge a little more smoothly!” Sabia shouted. Good a sniper as she was, it was hard to line up a shot when Thorir zigzagged across the road. Her long ponytail danced in every direction as they went back and forth across the street, and the green girl considered it might be best to cut it off.

“Gun fire,” the yellow-haired Netzian grunted in reply, “A coward's way to fight,” he added even though no one asked.

‘Long range is perfectly acceptable,’ Sabia wanted to shout back as she tried to steady her aim on Felix’s head.

She fired, and the shot ricocheted off the Gatling gun as it continued to belt out laser fire. It was still close enough for Felix to jump.

“Any support?” he shouted down into the Ali.

Fiona tried another button. The Ali roared.

“Uh, come back in and hang on, maybe,” the blue princess shouted.

Felix pulled the gun back in the Ali at her words. As he lowered his head below the roof of the vehakul, there was a sudden acceleration. He and Liv were thrust to the back of the transport and crashed into the cracked window. Several more fractures formed, but it was not enough to break.

“Odell, what did you do?” Fiona’s voice was shaky due to the vibration of the Ali as it rocketed down the road.

Thorir frowned as the gap began to increase between the two vehakuls.

“Real warriors don’t need fancy technology!” he shouted, though only Sabia could hear him. She rolled her eyes.

“Stop the bike; it seems we will need something faster and more deadly.”

They pulled the bike-like vehakul to the side and made a call for support. The organization had only sent a small force into Nun, but they had been rapidly recruiting members and allies in any way possible.

“It’s me, Sabia said in a flirty tone. Would you be a dear and loan me that one thing? Oh, don’t worry about it; I just thought it would be fun for a joy ride! Of course, you can come, silly! Yes, we can go back to your place after.”

She spoke for a moment longer to give her location and how fast the person needed to get there. Then the green Aqueenian hung up the phone and spat. “I swear,” was all she said in response, but her tone was one of disgust.

“What did you call in?” Thorir asked.

Sabia smiled. It was the sort of smile that lacked sweetness.

“A prototype from an office worker who really wanted a date!”

Thorir shook his head.

“This city is full of fools. Their world will end with them never realizing.”

“If you weren't such a musclehead, I might think you were trying to be poetic… it doesn’t suit you.”

Thorir said nothing in reply as he stared down the road. The Ali was only a spec, and he was itching to get back into the fray. Once the vehakul was taken down, he could have more fun with a better opponent.

Sabia used her Needaimus to see the time. She drummed her fingers on their bike and thought to herself. Once the man she called arrived, he would no longer have use. He would have to die and swiftly. Thorir was unlikely to do it; he didn’t like killing something that didn’t try to punch back. Though she loathed to do it as well—he would have to be shot at close range. She didn’t like it, especially when she had to deal with the look of shock and hurt from her betrayal. It was much better to kill from afar.

The green Aqueenian sighed and began to fix her messed-up ponytail. Thorir looked up to the sky and wished a stronger opponent would simply fall out of it. They both knew they would be waiting for a minute.