Chapter 192:

The Ali Arrives at the Hotel

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

The nighttime highway lights sped by the Ali-442 as Fiona struggled to find which button could slow them down. The button that caused the initial burst in acceleration did nothing when pressed a second time, and whatever Odell had wired in was routed around the brakes. The Ali made a continued roar and shook like it was going to fall apart as it flew down the road.

In a panicked state, Fiona began to press button after button. Liv and Felix watched helplessly as the vehakul fired off flares, let out a loud horn, had things emerge and return from panels on the side, and all manners of things Odell had wasted time to add to the transport in his free time.

Fiona herself would have been impressed he got so much done—she couldn’t argue with his technical prowess at the very least—if she wasn’t so concerned with not crashing.

She pressed another button and let out a smokescreen behind the Ali, which flooded the road with a thick covering.

“Princess!” Felix cried out. He had been trained for endless torture, awful mind manipulation, and all manners of mental defense for his career, but it was at this moment he discovered a new fear—dying due to Fiona’s reckless driving.

“I’m working on it!” she shouted. The blue princess pressed another button on the dashboard, and the Ali finally made a good sound. Whatever had overdriven the engine was shut off, and they quickly began to decelerate.

All in the vehakul made a collective sigh of relief. Fiona began to slow down significantly. It was only at that moment she realized that her hands shook. She gripped the wheel tighter to keep them still and made a mental note; she would never drive again.

They didn’t get too long of a break.

Liv was the first to notice a large black shadow emerging from within the smokescreen. She tapped Felix and pointed, and the Hobusian agent’s eyes grew wide.

From within the smoke, an unknown vehakul emerged. It was short and bulky with a metallic black coating. The front resembled a V-shaped snowplow, and the body of it seemed more like a battleship. The hovering technology barely kept the thing above the ground, an open hand wouldn’t have been able to fit, but the flat highway was the perfect spot for it.

On top of the bulky vehakul stood an equally bulky Netzian man. Thorir smiled as they chased after the Ali. He looked down a hatch at the top and shouted.

“I see them now; get closer!”

“Shut up and get in here!” Sabia shouted back from inside. The yellow-haired Netzian grunted and climbed in one of the vehakul’s many seats. Sabia sat in the front with three tablets connected to cameras on the front sides and back. Thorir was in charge of manning the cannon.

The strange vehakul was one Nun had been experimenting in for defense. A radical designer had been thinking about bunkers and what would happen if a bunker could move. The result was the giant vehakul that currently pursued the Ali-442.

Felix returned to the Gatling gun on top and fired at the new opponent, but the laser shots bounced harmlessly off the metal body and quickly dissipated with little explosions, like fireworks. Inside the bulky black vehakul, Thorir turned a crank.

“This is hardly a way to fight!” he shouted as sights on a tablet aimed at the Ali.

“Shut up and shoot!” Sabia fired back.

Thorir grunted and pulled a lever. Out of the front of the vehakul, a long barrel began to extend. Felix’s eyes grew wide, and he ducked back into the Ali.

“Swerve to the side!” he shouted.

Fiona didn’t know what to think, but she did as told. A moment later, a large blast of red energy sailed past the Ali and exploded in front of them. Fiona shivered as they drove past the damaged road.

“Does your Needaimus have a counter to that!” Liv shouted as steam poured out from the sides of the chasing vehakul. The blue princess did not know what to say in response. She might have been able to face it by teleporting around but couldn’t do anything while behind the wheel.

“Just keep driving; it looks like it needs time to cool down!” Felix replied. Both agents moved to the back of the Ali to look at the opposing vehakul.

“I can’t believe it’s so fast!” Liv said in shock.

“They are probably pushing its capabilities. We just need to stall, and then we can get out of this mess.” A thought popped up in Felix’s mind, and he quickly looked at the road signs. They weren’t quite where he wanted to be, but they were close enough to get off. “Princess! Get off at the next exit and make a left!” he shouted.

Fiona simply assumed they were close to the hotel and followed his directions. She slammed on the brakes to slow the transport for the turn. The vehakul drifted off the highway while a building exploded from another laser blast.

Felix shifted to the front and began to give Fiona directions through the streets. The large vehakul chased after, as well as it could through the grid of brightly lit Nun streets. People out to party ran and screamed as they barreled through. As Felix had assumed, the bulky opponent took more time to slow down and speed up, and with every turn, the gap grew more and more.

Fiona spun and twisted the wheel as fast as she could; with each turn, all of the opponent's attacks missed by a hair, and the stress caused her to grind her teeth. Eventually, the tall hotel came into view on a long stretch of road that circled the pond. Felix cursed as he looked back.

Despite the difficulty, the pursuers had not let up. The bulky vehakul was far off but still in view.

Fiona saw a road that led out to the lake and got an idea. She quickly diverted the Ali down the small road.

“Where are you going?” Felix shouted with concern.

Fiona answered by turning off the lights and pressing a button on the Ali. The floatation device inflated in an instant as she drove into the lake.

The bulky vehakul followed as fast as it could. Sabia didn’t notice the trick until it was too late. She tried to stop, but the large mobile bunker drove directly into the water. The hovering technology held out on the calm lake for a moment but eventually gave out, and the vehakul sank with a large splash.

The Ali, on its own, groaned as Fiona tried to use her initial momentum to turn around. The hovering devices had sunk under the water and struggled to propel their vehakul. It was slow, but she had been careful not to go too far from the coast. The Ali made a grinding sound as they slowly slid back onto the dry shore. All the while, she wanted to shout for the vehakul to keep going and fight harder.

As their opponents safely reached the shore, Sabia and Thorir came out of the bulky vehakul hatch, the only thing not submerged in the water.

“Useless technology,” the tall Netzian muttered. Sabia kept quiet, but her green face was twisted in a hideous expression of anger. “Now we do it my way!” Thorir grabbed the green Aqueenian before she could protest and leaped off the bulky vehakul. She cried as they landed on top of the Ali just as it came up from the water. The bulky Netzian had one arm wrapped around her waist, which was the only thing that kept her from hitting the ground.

Sabia let out a yelp as Fiona quickly accelerated. The only thing which would keep her on top of the Ali was Thorir holding on, and she didn’t trust him to remember she was there when he started fighting.

“Don’t let go!” she shouted as she pointed her long Needaimus down the open hatch in the Ali’s roof. Felix cursed himself for not closing it as he ducked out of the way. The windshield glass cracked as Sabia fired several shots at the driver. She could not get the right angle to hit Fiona, but the blue princess didn’t know that.

The Ali swerved back and forth as it went around the lake and began its drive across the long bridge to the hotel. She began to echo the horn to warn those standing in the way to move. As people ducked out of the way, Fiona sped up more.

“They wouldn’t!” Sabia gasped. Thorir laughed in reply and leaped backward off the Ali.

The vehakul smashed through the front of the hotel. At the same time, Thorir landed flat on his feet and slid to a stop while standing up. He gently set Sabia down, but the green Aqueenian was too shaken to stand—she fell to her knees.

Thorir, for his part, smiled.

“Finally! We can get some good fighting in!”

He left Sabia behind as he marched into the fight.