58 Scent of Pine
In hindsight, Zoey figured she should have taken the gentler approach down the crater. The reason being is that she was now hanging from a cliff suspended hundreds of meters above the crater floor and hundreds of meters below the rim. It was only thanks to her Dark Star Vision that she was able to arrest her momentum and slow her fall enough to finally grab onto a ledge before she plummeted to her demise.
But she really did not have a choice. Has she stayed up on the rim, she likely would not have been able to escape. Sure, she could have killed a large number of them, including Markus if she decided to fight, but she had also noticed the weapon emplacements that had been placed on the Kreppelin deck and aimed at her. She was not interested in taking a magically charged balista to the chest.
So, there she was, hanging from a cliff halfway down the crater's side, with Viridi fluttering anxiously in the air behind her. Zoey sent her friend some assurance that she was ok and climbed up onto the ledge. Once there, she lay on her back and closed her eyes, letting the rain wash over her face. Viridi landed and licked her to comfort her, and Zoey could not help but smile in thanks. She was a little tired, and her head was pounding from her overusing her Dark Star Vision. It had saved her life and allowed her to kill the man in black leather, but she really needed to fabricate a device that could take the strain off of her optic nerves. She had a design already, but she had not thought that she would need it this soon.
After she had recovered her strength, she got up and continued to make her way down the side of the crater. It was treacherous going in the rain. The rocks were slippery and the water from higher up was all flowing into the crater, forming waterfalls, mudslides and a number of other hazards. If it wasn't for Viridi acting as her scout again she would have been buried several times already during her climb.
It was hard, but she eventually made it to the floor of the crater. Surprisingly, the area wasn't flooded like she expected. Most of the water was flowing into numerous underground chasms and canyons in the crater. Last time when she had looked into the crater from above, she had seen that the trees down here were bigger than average. Only now was Zoey able to fully appreciate the actual size of them. The average height seemed to be over one hundred and fifty meters tall and the trunks were thick and solid, with large roots penetrating deep into the ground. They were majestic trees that put the trees above on the rim to shame.
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Zoey couldn't just admire the scenery all night, she needed to find a place to rest and recover after her fight. Once again, Viridi came to her rescue by finding a secluded nook nearby she could hide in. Zoey was truly surprised by the place. It was a dry, little cave hidden in the protective cover of four of the titan-like trees. The in the center of the trees, the water poured gently off of the leaves and branches above to create a gentle shower next to the cave opening.
In a spark of inspiration, Zoey quickly set to work with her Aether Engineer talent and shortly had a sleeping bag and small magic powered space heater. She also produced a fresh set of clothing, some soap, and some other self care items. Viridi found the heater much to her liking and instantly curled up in front of it and began purring like a chainsaw, making Zoey laugh out loud at the sight. Once she was prepared, Zoey peeled off her soaked clothes and stepped out into the cool shower that nature had so kindly provided.
Nothing could really compare to the feeling of fresh rainwater sluicing down her body, embracing her in its cool embrace. In the haven of the trees, Zoey took her time enjoying the feeling of the rainwater and the scent of the trees around her. The smell reminded her of the pine trees back on Gaia, and the nostalgic smell allowed Zoey to forget her troubles and let her mind drift away, floating through the faint, but comforting memories of her past home. She hoped that one day she could find a place on this world she could call home.
Once she was thoroughly washed clean in mind and body, she retreated into the warmth of the cave and dried herself off. After she was warmly dressed and settled in, she cleaned and repaired her equipment. She also had to fabricate a new knife. She had left hers in the skull of the man in black leather. In her hurry to leave she had not thought to recover it. She also took her time to fabricate the tool she needed to utilize her Dark Star Vision without straining her nerves. It was a pair of polarized lenses set into the her mask eye slots. The arrays she programed into the mask and lenses would allow the technique to function as it normally would, but the strain would be placed onto a shielded capacitor she built into the mask. Safe and effective.
The next day Zoey awoke feeling better and more refreshed than she had in a long time. The weather seemed to share her feelings as the storm had passed and the warm light of the sun was peeking its way over the crater rim, bathing the tree tops in its warmth. Zoey and Viridi packed their camp and headed out. Their objective was to scout the area, identify if there were any threats, and make there way to the southwestern edge of the crater. She was currently on the northwestern edge and the city that Nito had given her directions to was southwest from the crater.
Zoey seemed to have a brighter glow in her emerald eyes as she headed out that morning. Only she knew the truth of why that was, but if one were to guess, maybe the trials of the day before had made her feel a little more at home in this strange new world.