56 On the Edge
The sticky netting that Zoey was entangled with was clearly designed to keep a target in place, so no matter how she struggled she could barely move her feet from the ground. Not to mention that there were more of the nets heading her way. If she got hit she would have a terrible time getting free. Thankfully Zoey had a guardian angel. As the nets that the Vekt threw flew through the air towards her, a series of Shadow Blades flashed through the air and shredded the nets.
In the next instant the Vekt up in the tree screamed as Ice Venom splashed onto his face. The extreme cold and acidic nature of the venom froze and melted the Vekt's skin, causing extreme pain and making him lose his grip on the tree, sending him falling to the ground.
The culprit behind these attacks was Viridi, and Zoey felt relief flow through her as she saw her friend glide down from the tree tops and land next to her. Through their link she could feel Viridi was telling her she would always protect her, no matter how hard that would be. Sending her thankful thoughts to Viridi, the two of then focused on getting her free from the netting. After a few moments of hacking, sawing, and chewing, Zoey was free.
Viridi flew back into the trees to act as a scout and Zoey continued on her way towards the crater. She remembered that Vidiri had seen another enemy dropping from the Krepelin airship, so there had to be at least one more hunter after her. Zoey had to keep her senses tuned to the max as she moved. If she got ambushed it would be dangerous for her. She needed the advantage of surprise when she was up against her attackers.
As she made her way deeper into the forest, the Kreppelin airship was falling further behind, but it was still following her like a bloodhound. She hoped that what Nito had said about them not following her into the crater was accurate.
The storm was getting worse. Lightning flashed in the sky and thunder boomed and crashed above. The rain was pouring down in sheets making the ground a sloppy mess so Zoey had to watch where she was stepping as she ran. Despite the weather, she was able to reach the crater in record time. She finally came out of the trees and saw the crater edge ahead, but there was a small problem. Well, if Zoey was honest, it was a big problem. The man in black leather stood between her and the crater, arms crossed, simply waiting for her.
"We meet again, little fox," he said in his gravelly voice, his face twisting into a leering grin. "We didn't have time to properly get to know each other when we met before... I'm here to fix that."
Zoey couldn't stop a shudder from going through her. This creep... Why was he here? She knew the answer, but still... What had she ever done to deserve the attention of these assholes? She was frustrated, but her mask hid her expressions from the man. Her mask had a black matte finish that seemed to absorb the light, and the only feature on it was the two slanted eye slots, giving the mask a ghost-like aura. She just silently stared at the man through her mask, somehow the pressure she had felt from him the last time they fought was not as strong.
"Still silent hmm? Well, you will be screaming soon enough," his creepy grin grew wider. "If you surrender now, I can even make sure you enjoy it."
Zoey felt the urge to puke. Everything that came out of his mouth was disgusting. In response to his "offer" she simply brought her left arm out from under her poncho, revealing the cold gleam of the knife she held. In the pouring rain she cut a striking figure. Her poncho fluttered in the wind and her mask gave off an eerie feeling in the thunder and lightning that split the night. She had a quiet lethal feeling about her that made even the man in black leather sober up.
His grin disappeared as he realized he was getting no reaction from her. He sighed and drew a blade that was hanging at his waist. "Don't blame me for this. Blame the gods for giving you something so valuable." He raised his free hand and snapped his fingers, and instantly disappeared.
Zoey was already waiting for his first move so the instant that he disappeared, she activated Dark Star Vision and applied Dark Star Control to her knife and threw it into the air. Thanks to her practice she was able to form and apply the runes in an instant underneath her poncho, hidden from view. She communicated with Viridi and instructed her to attack when she had an opening. Hopefully, this creep had no idea she had backup waiting high above.
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All of this happened in a flurry of motion from Zoey, and not a moment later she sensed a presence to her right. With her Dark Star Vision active, Zoey was able to see the very instant that the man appeared, his bony hand reaching out to grab her. He was moving with a speed that far surpassed human, but to Zoey it seemed like he was moving in slow motion. She was able to lean her body to the left to avoid the grab and at the same time aim her 9mm Custom at him under her poncho. Naturally, she had the Mk1 Prototype Armament applied to the handgun so she could boost it freely, and that is exactly what she did.
There was a boom that blended in with the thunder above as she fired her gun. The magic slug emerged from under her poncho and struck the man in black leather directly in the chest. But the man simply vanished into the air. Zoey realized instantly that it had been an illusion to trick her. The actual attack was coming from the direction she had dodged! She turned her head in time to see the man in black leather stabbing his blade towards her left ankle in an effort to maim her.
She had let him get too close again, and all she could see was the mocking leer on his face as he struck, knowing that she had no way to dodge.