88 Sails in the Nigh
It had only been several hours before, in the small cave deep underground when Zoey had fabricated her new equipment including the double-barreled monster of a gun she had just used to kill the Heavy Stone Lizard. Since she had reached rank 4, her Aether Engineering talent was now able to handle more advanced modifications and fabrication and as a result she was able to produce more powerful weaponry.
The double-barrel she now held was a good example of her Aether Engineer talent's upgraded functionality. It looked similar to a ballistic sawed-off 12 gauge shotgun one may have seen during Gaia's bygone age, however the modifications that Zoey made had turned it into something completely different.
The 20 cm long barrels were placed side-by-side and both were encased in a rectangular frame that contained the weapon's accelerator. In the back, the breach opened up to reveal two metallic shells that each had their own array. The array etched into the shells controlled what type of slug would be fired and doubled as a cooling system for excess heat. Last was the simple, but comfortable grip tailored specifically for Zoey's hands.
For the accelerator portion of the weapon, she had taken design elements from magnetic accelerator rifles, or MARs, that the military had once used on Gaia and incorporated that technology into a new concept. Using her newly-acquired Gravity Rune as a substitute for magnetic acceleration, she was able to produce a weapon that operated in a similar form to the magnetic accelerator rifles.
Even though her Aether Engineering talent still could not produce some of the extremely advanced materials required to build the power sources and materials for more advanced weaponry, she was now able to modify materials available to her on a deeper level. Using this advantage she had substituted what should have been fusion circuitry in her new weapon with aether circuitry.
Fusion circuitry was actually built directly into the material of MARs and was a crucial component of magnetic accelerator weapons. By replacing the fusion component of the circuitry with a material conductive to magical aether energy, she was able to invent a new form of circuitry that functioned the same way. This aether circuitry was responsible for the formation of the 3.5 oz magical slug, and also what controlled the Gravity Rune to propel the slug to over a thousand meters a second.
Without her Gravity Rune and the new capability of her Aether Engineer talent to modify materials on such a deep level, she would not have been able to craft her new weapon.
Now as she could see by the destroyed body of the Heavy Stone Lizard before her, the weapon was extremely effective. She had not expected that it would be this strong when she had designed it, but judging by the damage output, it was just as strong, if not stronger than its fusion-powered counterpart would have been.
As Zoey admired the still glowing twin barrels of the weapon Viridi approached and sniffed at it curiously. She soon lost interest in it though, as it did not smell very interesting. She was far more interested in Zoey's arm, and started licking Zoey's exposed skin asking for her daily meal. Zoey smiled at her hungry friend and exposed her arm for Viridi, letting her gently bite through the skin to get daily dose of blood.
As Viridi purred happily in thanks for her meal, Zoey turned her attention back to her gun. She really needed to come up with the name for it, but it had no precedent. After thinking about it for a while, she came up with a simple acronym to name the gun. Dual Aether Accelerator Cannon, or DAAC for short. She had a feeling that this twin barreled beast would serve her needs quite well for the time being.
Once Viridi was finished with her meal, Zoey healed up the bite with a quick flash from her Mittra Regen Rune and headed over to collect the essence stone from the dead Heavy Stone Lizard. Viridi followed behind lazily, letting out a satisfied burp on the way.
As Zoey pulled the essence stone from the corpse, Viridi suddenly let out a warning growl. Quickly looking at her friend, Zoey saw that Viridi was staring up and out into the night sky, growling at something. She quickly activated her Dark Star Vision to see what was there.
Off in the distance, maybe about a kilometer out she could see three looming shapes in the sky, headed their direction. From the silhouette she could see it had to be Kreppelins! Alarmed at the thought of more nobles showing up, the two of them quickly moved over to the hole left behind in the ground from the Heavy Stone Lizard's appearance. They dropped into the darkness below and hid just out of sight, watching the approaching airships with caution. Zoey double checked to make sure her new weapon was loaded and ready. If whoever was on those airships decided to attack them, they were going to get a nasty surprise.
As the Kreppelins got closer they started slowing down. Zoey and Viridi could not help but get tense as the big airships slowly drifted closer. With her Dark Star Vision, Zoey could make out some details on the ships. She could see that these three Kreppelins were bigger than the one the Rellen family had chased her in. These Kreppelins also had a different figurehead and altered design, being wider and more robust, marking them as another noble house. The three airships also looked to have something similar to gun ports along the length of the lower deck, but thanks to the angle, Zoey could not make out more than that.
Zoey and Viridi practically held their breath as the three Kreppelins slowly drifted over their position, clearly looking over the area. Zoey wondered with alarm if they had somehow detected her firing the DAAC earlier. If that was what had alerted them she would have to be careful in the future about how she used it. Or maybe she could modify the DAAC to prevent detection. Before she did that however, she needed to know how they had detected her. All that could come later. Right now she had to focus on her current circumstances.
Luckily, whoever was commanding the Kreppelins seemed to lose interest. After the airships slowly drifted around overhead for a few minutes, they started picking up speed and drifted away on the wind.
There was one problem though... they were flying in the direction of Sand Pit.