42 On the Edge
Zoey and Nito searched through the jungle brush for several hours before finally they were able to paint a picture of what had happened to the Kreppelin they were looking for. Judging from the random bits of debris they found, the evidence seemed to confirm that the airship had passed over this area of the jungle. By investigating the debris pattern, Zoey was able to formulate a probable direction that the Kreppelin had been flying when it passed over. Using this information they headed out to follow the clues.
The trail they found also told them that the airship had been under attack from something at the time. The metal and wooden debris they found was wither scorched from flames, or twisted beyond repair by some huge force. That being said, it had to have happened a long time ago, as most of the pieces they found were almost swallowed by the growth of the jungle and rusted by time.
Zoey and Nito decided to follow the trail and see what they could find despite the day getting closer to evening. They could always sleep under the trees if they needed, and thankfully they had come prepared. So they continued on, following the trail of twisted metal and burnt wood through the jungle.
They followed the trail until evening came and they stopped to rest for the night. They had almost lost the trail several times as they traveled because the Kreppelin had been changing course on its way, clearly trying to evade an attacker. This caused the debris left on the ground to be inconsistent and not always found in the direction the airship was traveling at the time. Despite almost losing the trail several times, they had made good progress thanks to their teamwork. Zoey swore that Nito could smell the metal sometimes with the ease he was able to locate the debris that was overgrown with jungle foliage.
They spent the night fairly peacefully, with only one Rank 2 Ice Venom Sky Snake attempting to attack them during the night. It had unfortunately attempted to slither up behind Zoey who was on watch at the time and had been ruthlessly dispatched by her Crystal Claw in one lightning fast strike. She was really starting to like her new bracer!
The next morning they had grilled snake for breakfast before heading out on the trail again. They were not attacked very often as they went along their way for some reason. The Ice Venom Sky Snakes in the area seemed to realize that the two interlopers were not to be messed with. With how many snakes they had killed so far this was an inevitable outcome. It did make their progress a bit faster though.
Around midday they finally made first sight of their goal. Zoey had been leading the way through the jungle with Nito not far behind. They knew they were on course thanks to the occasional metal or wooden part they found. The area they had been in this whole time, also known as the habitat of the Ice Venom Sky Snake, was almost entirely jungle canopy suspended high in the air by the rocky spires and trees. Only occasionally would a clearing be found where the sun actually could make it through the dense canopy above.
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Zoey had been checking her surroundings when she noticed something odd ahead of her. Instead of the normal dense growth she was used to seeing, she could actually see the sky through a gap in the trees and rock spires. It was odd because she was looking straight ahead and she could see the sky. Soon enough, they knew what caused this strange sight.
Coming out from under the canopy a short while later, Zoey and Nito were greeted by a sight that took their breath away and left them stunned. At their feet was a cliff that dropped straight down for hundreds of meters. This cliff was part of a massive, sunken crater that stretched out before them taking up their entire view. The crater was tens of kilometers wide, so wide that they could barely see the other side through the midday haze in the air.
The crater floor was more jungle, and from their vantage point, they could see thousands of beasts and other creatures moving among the trees and growth below them. There was a strange difference though… the trees and animals they could see from this height seemed far bigger than their counterparts were up on their current elevation. The floor of the crater gave off a wild, dangerous feeling that warned them not to tread easily if they planned to head down there.
Luckily, they would not have to do so. After Zoey had somewhat recovered from the amazement she was feeling, she looked to the left along the cliff's edge and finally saw their target. The Kreppelin they were hunting had crashed down and come to rest about twenty meters from the edge of the huge crater, and they were only a little ways away from it. Zoey shook Nito to bring him back to reality and they both headed over to inspect the wreckage.
As they walked, Nito was babbling about the crater and some books he read about giant rocks coming from the sky, but he wasn't really coherent, and Zoey was too focused on the crashed Kreppelin to hear what he was muttering. Zoey's engineering sense was fully awake and analyzing the wreckage to the exclusion of all else. From the remains of the airship, she could somewhat visualize what the craft had looked like when it was not a pile of twisted metal and wood.
The Kreppelin here was somewhat recognizable to her as it was similar to an ancient naval sailing vessel called a schooner back on Gaia. She judged the length of this airship would have been around seventy five meters with two masts, fore and aft, that would have carried what she assumed would be sails. The masts were still there on the wreckage, but were snapped off above the deck leaving behind the truncated stumps. The airship had a traditionally shaped bow and stern, but no rudder could be seen and the raised platform where the ship would have been steered from was in the center of the deck instead of the stern.
The bottom of the hull was also different from a traditional naval vessel as it was flat, and clearly intended for the airship to land on the ground. The outside of the airship would have been clad with metal panels, like the first one she found, but the wrecked ship was missing most of hers. It almost looked like some massive creature had used its claws to gouge the airship, leaving behind gaping holes in the hull. Through these gaping holes in the side of the craft Zoey could see the lower deck and the busted wooden trusses and beams that formed the frame.
The Kreppelin was in bad shape, and had obviously been here a long time judging from the vegetation growing on and around her, but Zoey was itching with excitement to climb onboard and take a look around.