141 Into the Wasteland
Despite her seeming to be indifferent, Zoey was paying careful attention to the conditions of the clanspeople following behind her as she led the way down the canyon. Asking a group of malnourished people to set out on a march with little prep and no supplies was ridiculous, but they had no choice. They needed to get out of the canyon as soon as possible.
The pace was ponderous, but everyone was working together to make sure nobody got left behind. The canyon was not terrain meant to be passed over easily, so extra care had to be taken for the sleds carrying the wounded. Little by little they made their way towards the unknown.
Zoey was at the head of the formation, but she was currently extremely busy. Aside from monitoring the condition of the clanspeople, she was also keeping tabs on the Wolves of Brumau that were about to reach the canyon. They had done their best to cover their tracks, but a good tracker would be able to easily find their trail. Zoey wanted to know right away if they decided to follow them down the canyon.
Besides that, she was inspecting the trail of corruption left behind by the creature she had killed. This would be her guide to find the source of all this, and she needed to know what to look for. She was also in constant contact with Custodian 704, working with him to prepare the second part in her grand plan. However, they were almost to the bottom of the Bulwark, and the preparation was almost complete.
Before long, the canyon ahead of Zoey opened up to reveal their goal, the wasteland. Zoey and Max were the first to step out of the canyon and onto the grey dirt of the wastes. Behind them, the Bulwark loomed tall, casting its ominous form into the sky.
The sight that stretched out before them was flat, empty, and dead, with the only visible features being petrified stumps of long dead trees and the grey dirt of the ground that had been churned up by the passage of thousands of beasts night after night.
It was not a place that was friendly to life of any kind, and the Asurai were not comfortable being here. As the clanspeople filed out of the canyon, they huddled together for protection while the warriors around the group of noncombatants watched their surroundings cautiously.
It was still just after dawn, so the air was chilly, but even here on the wasteland, there was no wind, no breeze, as if the air itself had no life. It was an odd feeling, and Zoey was willing to bet that it was not a natural phenomenon.
"I can hear them. They are in pain."
Zoey looked at Max when he spoke. The boy's eyes were closed, and his brow was scrunched up as if in pain.
"What direction," Zoey asked him quietly.
Max opened his eyes and pointed into the wasteland. Interestingly enough, the trail of filth and sour earth left behind by the corrupted led in that exact direction.
Zoey opened her interface and sent out some commands to her high altitude drones. The Wolves of Brumau had not deemed it necessary to follow them, so she did not have to worry about them anymore. What she needed now was info about the trail ahead, so she was sending her drones out in a wide arc to scout the terrain.
"Zoey!" Taigen called out to her as he approached where she and Max stood. "I trust you have plan for what we do next? I'm afraid we are in a bad situation when it comes to food and water. We won't make it far out here..."
He was concerned for his people, and rightly so. This place had always been a place of death for the people of Frenach. Unless you had a death wish, you kept clear of the wasteland. But Zoey was not someone that the norms of Frenach applied to.
She checked her interface one last time before she turned to speak, "You should probably back up a little."
Taigen was confused but did as asked. Max on the other hand stubbornly refused to leave her side. Zoey pulled out the cube from her inventory and sent her thoughts through her interface to 704 on the inside.
"704, are we ready?" she asked.
"Yes Miss Zoey. Everything is prepared as your requested," came the reply.
Zoey nodded, then said, "Alright, initiating the transfer."
The transfer Zoey was referring to was bringing her cruiser from inside the cube to the world outside. As Custodian 704 had told her when she had first opened the cube, she had the power to move objects to and from the cube at her will. Size was not an issue as long as it was smaller than the inside of the cube's space.
The only limitation to this was living beings. She could enter into the cube with her consciousness, and so could Viridi through her inner world, but there was a restriction on moving living beings into the cube.
That aside, the cruiser Zoey and 704 had been working on was unfinished. There was still a lot to do on the ship, including adding the main propulsion system to it, but for now it would have to do.
As the Asurai clan looked on in confusion behind her, Zoey lifted up the cube in her hand and activated the transfer. What happened next completely stunned them all.
There was a sudden flash of light, then out of nowhere a massive ship appeared before them. Cries of shock rang out as the clanspeople were startled by the sudden appearance of the unknown shape. None of them were able to identify the strange shape and aerodynamic lines of the object as an airship, as they only knew of Kreppelins, and this was not a Kreppelin!
No, this was something else. Though unfinished, Zoey knew once this cruiser was complete, it would rival the might of any military vessel from her old universe.
She would make sure of that!