108 Self Realization
Now that her swarm of drones was released, Zoey continued on her way into the town. She joined in with the rest of the traffic once she reached the gate, and got some strange looks from the gate guards as she passed them thanks to her mask, but she paid them no mind. Once past the gate she found herself on a crowded cobblestone street busy with activity.
Groups of adventurers, mercenaries, traders, craftsmen, and more made their way along in steady stream of people coming and going from the Kreppelin landing zones. She had to be careful not to be jostled or pushed over as she made her way along the street, as most groups paid little attention to anyone in their way. She was almost trampled several times thanks to her smaller stature, but the street eventually reached a crossroads where much of the traffic split separated and went in different directions, allowing Zoey some breathing room and a chance to look around.
Brumau was a loud town, with the grey sky doing nothing to dampen shouting from vendors and rowdy visitors. Zoey was aware that many people showed up to the town during the beast tide, and the large number of people certainly alluded to that.
She continued on her way through the town with her goal being the town's eastern plaza where the leaderboard and the tally stations were and where most teams gathered in preparation for the next wave. She kept checking her interface periodically on the way and saw that her surveillance system had already spread out over most of the town and was already actively gathering information.
All of the data was collected and sorted through her interface after which she could check to see what the most common topics of discussion were around the town and also search for specific terms and information.
Sure, it was not the most ethical thing to do, spying on the entire town like this, and truth be told Zoey had spent a lot of time thinking about if she should even use the drones.
The determination of right and wrong was an argument as old as time, and even back on Gaia, mass surveillance had been shunned as immoral and unethical. But that had been in simpler times, when the threat of the enemy was not a concern. In her current situation, Zoey could not afford miss out on a tool this valuable, ethical or not.
But she would have to draw the line somewhere, lest she misuse her abilities and the power she now had. However, here on Darren she had yet to encounter a prevailing ideology that determined the difference between wrong and right. Even if there was such a thing, would Zoey even hold herself to that?
During the nights aboard the Kreppelin, Zoey had been able to do a fair bit of self reflection, and she had come to realize an important fact about herself. She had lost a huge part of her character back on Gaia during that quarter century of mind numbing isolation. Under the crushing knowledge that she was the last human alive, a part of herself, had died.
However, since she had first stepped foot on Darren, little bits and pieces of her former self had started to revive and self-realize once more. Zoey realized that some of those pieces of character had revived without her even knowing it at the time, but looking back, she could actually pinpoint some of these moments when they had happened.
When she had stepped out of the pod that carried her here and saw the green fields for the first time in forever, the part of her that loved nature had come back to life, making her realize that she had appreciation for nature in all its glory and for the new world she now lived in.
Encountering the Rellen family and her subsequent clashes with them made it obvious to her that she could not stand arrogant, self righteous, bullies, nor would she tolerate any threat to herself regardless of the source. She had killed people without hesitation during the night when they had chased her to the crater and the final fight with the man in black, but when the Sand Sharks and the Siren Vultures had captured Athena she had used only non-lethal methods. Still, later on when she had Cornelius Rellen in her sights and at her mercy, she had not taken the shot. Why had she not killed him?
Zoey had gone through her thoughts and motivations several times regarding those moments and realized that if there was immediate threat to her and she was not afforded any time to think things through, she would kill without hesitation. But at other times, if she could plan, observe, and devise an alternative, she would probably avoid killing when she could.
The various fights and combat encounters she had been through along the way had awakened a thirst for challenge within herself, and had pushed her to improve. The training with Doris had given her more revelations, helping her realize that she enjoyed being tested and pushed to her physical and mental limits.
Exploring new, unknown lands like the first dungeon she had entered and the caves she had trekked through, along with the forests, jungles and other locations along the way had revealed a desire for adventure and exploration that she now relished. At times she had found herself watching the horizon, wondering what she would see next in this wide world filled with possibilities.
Tinkering with her Aether Engineer talent had helped her discover that she loved to build and create. When something she had designed and built successfully came together for the first time, it was a wonderful feeling that she would enjoy every time it happened.
Then, there were her friends. Viridi, Nito, Athena, all of then had become important to her. She liked seeing them smile, laugh, the way Nito clicked his hands together, Athena's hugs, and Viridi's adorable face when she was getting her daily meal, purring louder than a mechanical engine the whole time. All of them had filled a void within her heart in some way without Zoey even realizing it at first.
And this was just the beginning. Zoey knew there was still a lot of her character left to discover, like a blank chunk of marble, waiting to be chipped away piece by piece to reveal the masterpiece beneath. The thing was, some pieces she had recovered were still a little foggy, with more to discover under the surface. As Zoey spent more time in this world, she would discover more and more about herself as she went along.
All of this fed into her thoughts and realizations about if she should use the surveillance drones or not. In the end she had decided that not using it, gained her absolutely nothing. But, by using it maybe she could discover more of her own character that had been lost on Gaia. Maybe she would end up destroying the system completely after she used it, or she would decide that the benefits outweigh the ethical downsides.
In the end, the one to decide would be her, and only her.
What would she chose to do?