54 A Light in the Dark
The next day Zoey spent some time using her Aether Engineer talent to design some items that she had an idea about. She wanted to find a way to implement her new techniques and abilities without placing strain on herself. Her body could still break down if overused even though she was basically superhuman at this point.
The weather outside was overcast, rainy skies, so staying inside was preferable. She made some good progress on the items she wanted to fabricate, and made some interesting discoveries as well. Her Aether Engineer talent could take the magic arrays and rules of this world, analyze them, and produce a far more efficient method of achieving the same result. This was thanks to the ability it now had to modify items that Zoey did not create.
Her Crystal Claw Bracer for instance, she was able to completely restructure the array that controlled how the claw worked, making it faster and deadlier. It was also more dexterous and efficient as well. With her interface, creating magic arrays was like programing an electronic computer that the humans of Gaia had used.
Aside from creating and modifying her gear and equipment, the Aether Engineer talent could also fabricate large scale items if provided with magic and matter. She had some plans for that in the future, and if she managed to pull it off it would be a huge benefit to her survival chances. Zoey spent most of the day messing around with her gear, improving it and coming up with new ways to implement her abilities.
By the time evening had arrived, she was interrupted by Nito barging into the house with a frantic look on his face. He had been out the last few days practicing his techniques, so this was a rather sudden return. He was also covered from head to foot in mud.
"Zoey! We must go! Hurry!" He shouted urgently as he started grabbing his important items and stuffing them into a backpack.
"What's going on?" Zoey asked, more than a little confused as she started helping him by storing items in her inventory.
"Noble Kreppelin, spotted it coming from the direction of Colten, Rellen house colors!" Nito replied breathlessly as he hurriedly grabbed some dried food.
Zoey was immediately aware of why Nito was so worked up. Having encountered the Rellens once before, she wanted nothing more to do with them. She wondered though how they had found her, but that didn't matter anymore. It did not take them long to store away everything in the house. Zoey took the larger items into her inventory and Nito took only what he needed and what was important to him.
"Here, take this!" Nito scrawled something on a piece of paper before handing it to Zoey. "We need to split up, follow these directions when you lose them and you will find one of the exile cities! I will try to find you there! But first, you need to go to the big crater we saw by the crashed ship! They will not follow you there!"
Zoey nodded in understanding as they exited the house. The two friends faced each other and clasped hands. Nito smiled sadly at her. "Thank you for everything Zoey. I am honored to have a friend like you."
"Likewise Nito... We will meet again." She replied, her resolve was clearly shown on her face.
As the rain poured down and thunder boomed in the sky above, they separated and headed in opposite directions into the dark forest. Zoey pulled her poncho hood low as she ran. Viridi had been hanging onto her right shoulder this entire time. It had been her customary spot whenever she was too lazy to move about by herself.
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Zoey had started to run in the direction that Nito and her had found the wrecked Kreppelin. If she needed to, she would escape into that massive crater in that area. Nito seemed to think that they would not follow her there and his word was good enough for her. As Zoey ran, she heard the sound of wind and the flapping of canvass behind her. As she turned her head to look, a bright spotlight cut through the rain not far behind her coming from something in the sky.
Sure enough it was a large Kreppelin floating through the air behind her. She could see the red Rellen house crest painted on the billowing sails and there was a figurehead depicting a lion on the airship's bow. The Kreppelin was around a hundred meters long and on the deck she could see many armed humans and Vekt moving about as they managed their duties. There was a magical searchlight placed at the front of the ship and they were no doubt using it to hunt for her. Her eyes could easily see the arrogant form of Markus Rellen standing by the control console near the back of the airship, and right behind him was the mad in black leather that had chased her in Colten before.
Zoey's hand tightened on the grip of her 9mm Custom she had unconsciously pulled from her inventory at some point. They must still be tracking her by her Harmonic Heritage and the unique scent that only certain Vekt could detect. She needed to shake them somehow. Just as she increased her speed she heard shouts from the Kreppelin's decks behind her and the light of the searchlight finally located her. The Kreppelin was skimming right above the tree tops and was only a hundred meters behind her at this point, and it was gaining on her.
Annoyed at the light, she leapt into the air and twisted around to face behind her. Acquiring her target in an instant, she activated her Crystal Claw and sent a Shadow Blade into the air. She twisted around and hit the ground running and grinned as the searchlight behind her went dark and a scream sounded into the growing darkness. She would not have to worry about the light after that attack.
But now she had other things to worry about. Viridi growled and sent her a warning through their link and Zoey turned to see multiple shadows dropping from the Kreppelin to the ground and giving chase behind her. Seems like she would have to fight them off before she gave them the slip. As the pursuers gained on her, Zoey pulled out her mask and put it on. She had modified it since the last time she used it and it had some additional features that would be a nasty surprise for her enemies.
She was ready.