Chapter 206:

A Group Reunited

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

Fiona was the first to walk into the hospital room where the Nonpareil rested. Gwyn sat somberly on a hospital bed as the other team members came in one by one, like a funeral procession. They all wore frowns or neutral expressions; not one smile was to be seen. Odell sat with his back facing the mirror, his broken crown plain for all to see. Harlan sat by his side, just by the edge, so the mirror didn’t reflect her missing tail.

Hal leaned against the wall; his right torso had been encased in bandages to cover the spot where his arm had once been, and Fiona sat in a chair next to him. Rheba stood by the door.

The blue princess looked around at all the faces and wanted to break the mood in some way, but she was unsure of what might be appropriate—she had never worried so much about that before. Fiona looked Odell’s way and, perhaps reading her mind, shook his head to indicate ‘no.’ She looked down at the ground.

Rheba was the first to speak.

“I have been in contact with my people, and I have been called back, Benlou. Zenith wants a full debrief.”

Her words got the attention of the others, and they all turned to her. None offered any shock, it was a sensible thing to happen, and none provided any words; Fiona at least wasn’t sure what to say. Save for Harlan, who quietly gave her intentions.

“I have received a similar summons and will head out.”

Fiona jumped up.

“Wait, after all that, you’re just going to leave? Shouldn’t we, I don’t know, try to do something as a group? Even just getting one last meal! This is such a terrible way to part!”

No one replied as they looked down.

“We should at least exchange contact,” Odell quietly added, supporting Fiona’s sentiment.

Rheba looked like she wanted to refuse; Fiona was sure she would have been against it at the beginning—saying something like ‘warriors don’t exchange contact—but she relinquished her information with ease to all, even Harlan, and with a small ‘goodbye’ left the room. The Zenotote scientist did the same and—perhaps not wanting to be outdone—reluctantly chased after the tall warrior to share hers.

Fiona held the handwritten notes; they had no tablets to type with, close to her chest.

“I will be returning to; I have been away from Roanoke too long,” Hal added. Gwyn jumped slightly as the Netzian soldier said the name of his home but didn’t offer any words to explain or delve further. Fiona looked longingly at Hal as she held out the piece of paper. He rolled his yellow eyes but scribbled down information all the same. Without another word, he left the room, seemingly taking extra care to go in the opposite direction Rheba and Harlan went.

Odell shook his head.

“I will have to be going too. Hagan secured us some transportation, and he wants to leave soon. You already have my contact, so please share it with the others.”

“I’ll do that,” Fiona said softly. Odell stood up and gently sat a six-fingered hand on Gwyn’s shoulder.

“Next time, let’s have you come over to Hobith; we can run around that city like we did in Quenth.”

“Sure,” Gwyn replied. He seemed surprised that the words escaped his lips.

Fiona hugged Odell, and the short Hobusian left the room. The blue princess turned to Gwyn.

“Donn sent me a message saying you will be welcome back in Quenth. Are you going to come?”

“I’d like to go back home, but I doubt anyone knows how to do that.”

Fiona swallowed.

“So, what will you do?”

“I don’t know. Guess I’ll stick around with you.”

Fiona approached Gwyn from across the room and reached for him, but the Nonpareil turned away. “Please, leave me alone for a little while.”

“Of course, I’ll let you know when our transport arrives. Donn said he would send one out immediately.”

With her last words, Fiona drew back from Gwyn and left him alone in the room. Her head hung down the whole time; she wasn’t sure what could be done.