The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)
Odell scanned the casino, it hardly had any of the flair the prince saw when first entering, but he didn’t worry too much about the details. What he was interested in was if he could try a maneuver. The quality of the walls and ceiling were necessary, as well as the floor, and as soon as Odell was sure it would work, he didn’t waste another minute.
With a strong push of his legs, he shot from the floor like a rocket. Spinning midair, he touched his feet to the ceiling and pushed again to change directions. To Rym and Evron, Odell was ricocheting around the room like he was made of rubber. In reality, he was manipulating his weight with such precision and timing anyone would be surprised to find he had come up with the trick out of boredom one day.
Odell shot around the room with the hammer firm in his hand. With every change in direction, he would pass right by Evron to throw the blue Zenotote off. The grey prince smiled. He had taken down Icarus in Horizon; he had no need to worry about Evron.
Evron, for his part, closed his slitted eyes and took a deep breath. He felt some frustration that might flip his switch, but he kept it under control as he calmly assessed the situation.
“You are hardly as confusing as you think, boy,” he finally shouted while taking a step to the side. Odell’s hammer crashed into the ground while the prince’s yellow eyes were wide with shock.
As the ground cracked, Evron grabbed Odell by the back of his neck and slammed his head near his hammer. He grunted, and the bony crown on the prince’s head developed a small fracture.
“I almost thought you had something in mind, but it seems you were far too simple,” Evron said as he smashed Odell’s face back into the ground. The cracks around the hammer's head began to grow in response, and the whole casino shook.
Rym, wide-eyed, tried to shout out to the unconscious Tancred, hoping he would wake quickly and help Odell before it was too late.
The floor cracked more and more and eventually gave out. Everyone inside, unconscious or not, fell into the lobby below in a drop close to two stories high. Most landed on some tiled floor, but Odell and Evron crashed into an ornate marble fountain, breaking it and spilling the water out.
A receptionist yelped from the desk and down the hallway; at the front entrance, the guard, Harry, cursed. He quickly began to shoo away people at the door before they could see what was unfolding inside.
Odell pushed himself up and felt his aching crown, it had chipped, and a large chunk was lost from the fall. His clothes were soaked head to toe and felt heavy and cumbersome. He gritted his teeth and hobbled away from the fountain, the hammer barely hanging in his six fingers as he drug it from the spot. He wiped some water away and did his best to tighten the grip around his weapon.
Evron made a shout that sounded more like a screech as he stood up. He repeatedly clawed at his wet clothes while muttering, ‘things never go right.’ Eventually, he tore the beautiful and regal fabrics from his chest and tossed them to the floor. His Needaimus on his arm was the only thing that covered above his waist.
Revealed on the bleached blue body was a series of missing scales. They appeared as spots, creating a polka-dot effect on the Zenotote’s body. No spot was located over a vital organ, and none was as wide as a spearhead carved from a wooden stick.
Rym was the only one who noticed; being of the same species, she knew it was odd for Evron to look that way. She silently crept over to Tancred while the blue opponent was focused on Odell.
“Tancred, hey, wake up,” she hissed as she shook the grey Bentalousian. He groaned.
Evron quickly closed the gap between himself and Odell. A heavy kick slammed into the Prince’s face, causing Odell to fall down. His crown shattered the rest of the way, leaving only a small line of the decorative structure across his forehead.
The blue Zenotote slammed his clawed foot into Odell’s chest and pinned the grey Hobusian to the ground. Odell grunted as he let go of his hammer and grabbed Evron’s ankles with both hands. He struggled to move the leg.
“A little luck can get you a long way, but without proper training, you will eventually lose,” Evron sneered as he pressed harder. “I suppose it makes sense a spoiled royal would be the one to irritate me.” he leaned in close to Odell to whisper the rest, “Once I am done here, I will personally lead an army to burn your Hobusian capital to the ground.”
Odell stared wide-eyed at the blue Zenotote; there were no lies the prince could detect, just rage and fury from his opponent. He felt a sudden fear of his foe and let go of his grip on Evron’s ankles. He wasn’t sure what to do when faced with Evron’s intensity.
A blue foot smashed into Odell repeatedly, each getting more intense as Evron sought to use the Hobusian prince as a punching bag that could relieve all his stress. Odell grunted as he took each blow, his Needaimus struggling to dull the pain as the attack grew more and more intense. Evron’s teeth were so tightly clenched together he might have thought they could shatter, but the blue Zenotote didn’t care as he continued his unrelenting attack. He wanted to make Odell hurt, then zap him away to some faraway mountain where he would freeze to death.
Evron might have succeeded if a sudden push from Rym hadn’t thrown him off Odell. She shoved with all her might into his back right when his foot was in the air; the pink and blue Zenotote could not have planned a better moment even if she wanted to.
Evron was so ecstatic as he attacked Odell that he didn’t notice Rym sneak up on him. He stumbled forward and turned back with a glare at his new opponent. Rym shuddered and backed up, she was not a fighter, and her job as a detective's assistant was meant to be a placeholder until her art career took off. It was clear to both her and Evron that she was in way over her head.
Evron smiled and walked forward. It was deliberately slow—fast enough to keep gaining on her as she backed up, but slow enough to take his time—so that Rym had space to become increasingly anxious as he got closer. He delighted in the expressions people made when they were nervous.
The bleached blue Zenotote stumbled as Odell moved the hammer’s handle in front of his feet. He glared back at the prince while Rym retreated to the unconscious Lucchi.
“Get up, get up,” she shouted at the crime boss, “If you’re not going to fight, then what are you good for!”
Odell propped himself up with the hammer; Evron smiled and watched the prince shakily move up from the floor.
“You wish to continue, huh?” he laughed.
Odell wished to run away; with all his might, he wanted to flee from the battle and the mad opponent. He wanted to escape to his father, who was much more skilled in combat. He wanted to rely on his showy brother, who would always draw attention. He even wanted to tell his fiance she wasn’t nearly as crazy as he thought.
If he was alone, he would have fled. But the sight of the worried Rym trying to wake up the only other fighter in the room and of the unconscious Tancred, who had shown him goodwill, kept the prince standing in one spot. His legs shook, and he wasn’t sure if it was from fear or the beating he had just endured.
One thing was sure to Odell, he was liable to die at Evron’s hand; he would be teleported to some far-off place and die alone. The thought disturbed the prince most of all. If he died, he would rather it would happen while laughing among friends.
King Fio had a phrase he always liked to say to both his sons, ‘A king should die before his subjects, a leader before his subordinate, a friend before his comrades.’ Odell had always thought it a little overdramatic. Times were peaceful on Resh; who would be dying? He had thought the rebuttal many times as he retreated to the garage to play with vehakuls.
Now standing before those who could not fight, his father’s words rang in his head. He smirked.
“I am really becoming my father.” His words were a mix of laughter and disgust.
Odell lifted his hammer and glared at Evron.
Evron smirked before vanishing. The next second, he wrapped his arm around Odell’s neck and began to choke the prince. The hammer clanged on the ground. The Hobusian prince became light and floated so that his feet were the same height as Evron’s head. Then, he made his torso heavy, and both slammed down on the ground. Evron gritted his teeth as he stood up and slammed a foot down. It would have landed on Odell’s head if the prince had not managed to move just out of the way in time. The scaly foot sat right next to his head.
Evron took a deep breath and became calm enough to decide he had played enough games. He settled on teleporting Odell to a random location and being done with it. As he reached down to touch the prince, a sound caused a moment of hesitation. A loud and obnoxious horn was blaring in the distance where the entrance sat. It sounded like a short tune of squeaky sounds that were popular due to a show K.A. Natos had worked on.
It was enough to give Odell the strength to push away from Evron and stand up. He recognized the horn; he had installed it as a joke to annoy his teammates during happier times—though he hadn’t gotten the chance to do so. The Hobusian prince had never thought the sound would be a fitting battle cry for the Ali-442’s arrival. Yet, the vehakul came crashing into the hotel lobby moments later. Its hover devices shut off suddenly, and the troop transport skidded across the room, stopping several steps away from where Evron stood.
“What now?” the bleached blue Zenotote whined.