101 Seven Oh Four
Zoey had been sitting in her usual spot on the railing at the front of the bow when she finally clicked the last corner of the puzzle cube into place. It took her a moment to realize that she had completed it, and once she did she smiled happily. She was filled with a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment from solving the cube. She could have used her interface to easily solve the pattern, but doing it with her own ability and perseverance was definitely more satisfying.
Now that the cube was complete, the intricate glyphs, lines and carvings on the metal surface created a beautiful design pattern that looked oddly familiar, yet strangely unfamiliar. It was like she had seen the pattern before, but couldn't remember where. Zoey traced her fingers along the design of the cube as she contemplated the pattern.
She realized suddenly that one of the center pieces of the cube was sticking out above the others. That was strange, all the surfaces had been perfectly even before... Slightly confused, Zoey used her thumb to try to press the piece back into place. When she pressed on it, the piece clicked back into its original slot, but Zoey suddenly felt something prick into her thumb!
She pulled back her hand in reaction to the sting, but there was already a drop of her blood on the cube, and as she watched, her blood was absorbed into the metal and started to flow through the lines of the design on the cube's surface.
Her pain forgotten, Zoey watched with fascination as the red color of her blood made its way through the patterns and glyphs until all the lines of the cube were red with her blood. Then, the patterns and lines pulsed once, and returned to its original dull metal sheen.
Zoey had no idea what had just happened, but another centerpiece on the cube had suddenly popped out of place after the process had finished. Zoey was more curious than apprehensive, so she clicked the square surface back into place, half expecting another sting from the cube.
However, the moment she clicked the center piece back into place, her vision went black. It was only a second, then she was hit with a bout of disorientation as her vision returned. Once again she looked at the cube in confusion. She still had no idea what the damn thing did.
But something had changed. Beneath her was not the wooden planks of the Kreppelin, but grass and dirt! Zoey looked up, and her eyes widened in shock! Around her was a completely new environment, far removed from the windy deck of the airship.
She was standing on an open field that stretched out before her. On her left was a forest of large, thick trees, on her right was a mountain reaching towards the blue sky above, and behind her was a sea that stretched to the horizon. She had never seen this place before, but it seemed strange, almost artificial in a way...
The ground was too flat, the trees planted in organized rows, and the grass grew too evenly. It was as if someone had been tending to this place...
Zoey looked at the cube in her hand again, still not sure what had happened. One of the squares was raised again, so she clicked it to see what it would do this time. She was hit with a second of darkness again, then she found herself back on the airship, right where she had been!
She looked at Viridi who was sitting nearby, and asked the the big furry deck-warmer through their link if she noticed anything strange just now. Viridi sent back a negative, indicating that nothing had changed in the last hour. Zoey wondered if the cube was some kind of dimensional tool, or localized space folding technique. She had done some research into the subject many years ago on Gaia, but the technology of their time had been far too primitive to manage such a feat.
Zoey instructed Viridi to maintain the link, and watch her for any changes, then clicked the cube again. Another second of darkness later and she was back to the strange location she had been to before in the same spot. She called out to Viridi, who instantly responded, informing her that she had not moved from her spot and was still holding the cube...
Strange! So her physical form was still on the Kreppelin yet her perception and mind was here in this space. She pinched herself, and found that she could still feel pain here, so the physical aspect of it seemed real. Could it be a mental space? Like her inner world was? There was one way to find out.
Zoey tried to open her inventory, and was pleasantly surprised that she could actually open it! This place was certainly different from her inner world. She knew this because she could not take physical items into her inner world. Not even things in her inventory could be taken there, but here she could freely take and place items from and to her inventory.
As a test she pulled some grass and dirt from the ground. the dirt she held in her hand, and the grass went into her inventory. Then she clicked the cube to go back outside. In a blink she was back on the Kreppelin. She looked at her hands, and found no dirt, but inside her inventory was the grass she had placed!
So thanks to her space ring, she could take items to and from this strange place inside the cube. On a whim, she decided to test it with Viridi as well. Viridi was also curious to where she had been going. Since their minds were linked, she could sense some of the things that Zoey could see, and knew she had been to another place.
Zoey pulled Viridi into her inner world, and clicked the cube. Once she was back inside the cube's space, she called Viridi, and in a flash her friend was standing there on the grass with her, looking around with curiosity.
This was quite the odd anomaly. Never in a thousand years would Zoey have thought that a puzzle cube she picked up from a vendor in Sand Pit for a silver coin because she liked the way it looked would end up hiding something like this!
Shaking her head at the strange circumstances, Zoey and Viridi took a look around to see if anything else would surprise them. Sure enough, only a few meters away, they found a pedestal with a hand imprint on it. Zoey was surprised that she had not noticed the pedestal sooner. Had it been there before?
Regardless, the handprint was clearly meant for a human-shaped hand, so Zoey placed hers into the imprint.
For a moment, nothing happened, then Zoey heard a voice...
"Greetings Master. Custodian Seven Oh Four is at your service."