After checking her gear one last time, Zoey realized that she had forgotten an important part of her kit. A gun. Not having a ranged weapon would limit what she could do if she was attacked, and she did not want to have to fight with her knife alone. Pulling up her interface she started looking through the different options she had for guns. She was not sure what impact a gun would have if she used it on this planet, but she wanted one for insurance as she was most familiar with firearms.
The issue was that a normal gunpowder based ballistic weapon would not be enough. The creatures she would inevitably face would be able to shrug off small caliber rounds. She needed something more powerful.
One problem with that was that her Aether Engineer talent was unable to fabricate the complex chemical compounds needed to create laser weaponry or something stronger like plasma weapons. She would have to find another solution. A quick query with her interface showed her no information on a more powerful alternative in this universe. It looked like she would have to come up with her own design.
She brought up some handgun designs from Gaia that she was familiar with and selected a classic 9mm model that had a reliable design. She activated her Aether Engineer talent again and started to manipulate the gun model. She wanted to build a variant that could use magic as a propulsion source instead of gunpowder and lead. The problem was she had no precedent to go off of.
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She tried different methods of this before settling on a magic battery style, magazine fed, semi-automatic design that would use magical arrays to create a slug out of magic power. Sethrii's database had extensive info on magical arrays, and with her Aether Engineer talent, she could easily manipulate an existing array structure and make it do what she wanted.
The design would work as follows, She would fill a magazine with magical energy and load it into the handgun. The the magical array on the handgun was designed to take an amount of magic from the magazine and form a solid magic slug in the barrel. After the slug was formed, the residual magic would be used to fire the slug once the trigger was pulled.
When she was researching the magical arrays, Zoey learned that magic arrays like this were quite widely used in this universe. Although she was implementing them in a way no one ever had, magic tools had long been made this way. What Zoey didn't know, was there were very few magicians that could create magic arrays, much less etch them on a small handgun. Zoey had the benefit of her interface, and had no idea yet what an advantage this was for her.
Happy with the design, it only took an hour to design and fabricate the gun and 4 magazines. Each magazine would allow for 20 shots, and could easily be refilled with magic. The gun felt comfortable in her hands, and was a welcome addition to her kit. She added a holster strapped to her right thigh and a magazine pouch on her belt as well, allowing her to easily carry her new weapon.
Zoey felt it would be a good idea to test the gun before she was actually in a situation where she needed it. She descended from the hill she was on to find a suitable place that would not cause too much alarm in the area. She was able to find a nearby sandbank that was located in a small basin. This would prevent her stray rounds from hitting anything nearby and pissing off something like the gorilla-rhino she had seen.
She readied herself, and in a smooth motion, drew her new gun and fired into the sand bank. A crisp crack signified the gun had fired and a dull thump sounded when the magic slug impacted the ground. She lowered the gun and inspected it for any abnormalities, but she did not find any issues. The firing sound was not nearly as loud as a gunpowder gun would have been, and was only slightly louder than a suppressed pistol of the same caliber would have been. She raised the gun again and emptied the magazine with a series of rapid cracks into the sand. She dropped the magazine and loaded another with a smooth motion, and fired another 20 rounds into the sand.
When she finished and the echoes of gunfire faded away into the trees, she smiled in satisfaction. After firing that many rounds her gun was slightly warm from the magical friction, and wisps of magic essence escaped from the barrel. The magic array etchings on the surface glowed with the pale traces of residue magic making the gun look ethereal.
Done testing, she reloaded her spent magazines, cleaned her gun and holstered it, once again ready to set out. She began to walk through the trees, this time keeping her senses tuned to her surroundings as she did not want to be surprised again like last time. There was no telling if her firing test had attracted unwanted attention.
She did have a destination in mind as her interface had allowed her to locate the direction of the closest civilization. Interestingly, while Sethrii's database had information about how the universe worked and plenty of other information, it was vague about the inhabitants of the universe and other small points like culture, what foods were common, and more. It was almost like Sethrii was not interested in the people and creatures that lived in the universe and was far more interested in how the universe worked and the rules that governed it all.
Regardless, Zoey had no idea what kind of beings she would encounter as she continued on aside from Sethrii mentioning that humans lived on this planet. It would be nice to see other humans, but she was slightly curious about the other inhabitants of Darren as well.
For most of the day she made her way through the forest until she made it to an area with less trees and more rolling hills. She had yet to see any sign of civilization, but was enjoying the sights and sounds of nature around her.
While she was walking through a smaller patch of trees, she heard something. She instinctively reacted, throwing herself forward to the ground. A long wooden spear had passed through where she just was and embedded itself into the ground with a thump. Zoey rolled to her feet, drawing her knife and gun on the way, readying herself for whatever attacked her.
Among the trees she caught a flash of movement and another spear flew at her. She dodged to the side and kept her eyes on the source, trying to find the assailant. She kept her gun and knife concealed beneath her poncho, not wanting to show her weapons yet. There was no telling what was attacking her and how many there were. Not willing to wait for another attack she erratically moved her way in the direction of the attacker, trying to keep the trees between her and where she anticipated the next attack would come from.
Sure enough, another spear came at her. She dodged to the side easily and instantly fired 2 quick shots from under her poncho in the direction it had come from. She heard a wet impact and a beast-like howl came from the brush signaling a good hit. Zoey carefully circled through the trees to get a look at what had attacked her while staying alert for additional attackers.
What she found was a big 2 legged creature covered in coarse fur. The creature had the head of a hyena and the teeth and claws to match. Long limbs that ended in sharp claws and rows of sharp teeth lined its mouth. In the fantasy stories of Gaia, Zoey remembers this creature would have been called a gnoll.
This gnoll however, had bitten off more that it could chew. It was trying to crawl on the ground, bleeding from a gunshot wound in its chest. From the amount of blood, Zoey knew it was fatal, so she simply waited in the trees, letting her adrenaline calm down and ready in case there was any backup hidden nearby. Eventually the gnoll stopped moving altogether and Zoey felt it was safe to approach.
The gnoll she had killed was big, about 2 meters or more when standing, and completely dwarfed her. She was not big to begin with, and her body's changes during the trip here had made that even more obvious. The gnoll was exactly like the fantasy depictions from Gaia, and this one seemed to be a hunter based on its gear. Zoey found some more spears nearby that the gnoll had likely carried with it. Its presence here no doubt alluded to a den nearby, and Zoey wanted no part in that.
Finishing her inspection, Zoey set out again, this time even more cautious and careful, wary of another ambush. Where there was one gnoll, there would likely be more.
Hours later, when the sun was nearing the horizon, Zoey finally found the first sign of civilization.