143 Thrusters Engaged
Zoey and Max once again gathered Taigen and his group together near the lift to the middle deck once everything was sorted out.
"We are about ready to take off, do you want to come along to the bridge?" Zoey asked them.
Taigen and Baiken had eager looks on their faces and Ssaul also voiced his curiosity. Saigo was the only one who decided to stay behind to watch over everyone in the cargo bay while the rest of them would go up to the bridge.
However, Zoey quickly realized that her grav-shafts were not something that anyone would be used to, so she had to demonstrate how they worked. When she stepped into the grav-shaft under the curious eyes of Max and the rest, she gently started to float up to the middle deck, much to the shock of the onlookers.
Zoey then descended back down using the other Grav-shaft to explain how it all worked. They accepted the idea well enough, but she could see that they were still sceptical. Max was the first to give it a try but he refused to do it without Zoey.
Zoey complied with a secret giggle and offered her hand to the boy, then stepped with him into the grav-shaft. His face was a mix of amazement and focus as they were slowly lifted to the next deck.
Once they had their feet firmly planted on the middle deck, Zoey asked him, "How was it? Not to bad right?"
"It was fun," he said as he looked up at her.
For a moment, Zoey thought that she saw him smile, but it was so brief and faint that it could have been her imagination as well.
After everyone saw Max use the grav-shaft, they would not be outdone by a child, so it wasn't long before Taigen, Baiken, and Ssaul made their way up the lift with varying degrees of excitement and chaos. Baiken in particular was fond of the experience and fired a barrage of questions at Zoey about how she had built such a thing.
She calmed down after a bit, then Zoey led them up the other lift to the top deck and then finally to the bridge. Even the rather stoic Ssaul let out an appreciative sound when Zoey opened the armor shutters blocking the windows to reveal the view before them.
Naturally the wasteland had very little to look at, but the cruiser's height still gave them an expansive look at the outside. Meanwhile, Zoey sat down in the Captain's chair and started to check the systems of the cruiser in preparation for take off.
Zoey looked up from her work when Max quietly asked her, "Does the ship have a name?"
"Not yet... Should I give it one?" she asked him.
He nodded to her as Baiken chimed in from where she stood by the windows, "A ship needs a name you know. It's bad luck to fly without one."
Zoey pondered for a moment. A name for the ship was not an easy thing to think of. Plus, it was really two ships, with the main cruiser and the separable bridge craft that could be considered a ship on its own.
Zoey thought about it for several moments before settling on a name for her cruiser. She had chosen two names, one for each part of the airship, that also carried meaning when presented together.
She stood up and walked to the front of the bridge while everyone watched her expectantly.
"I will call her Stella Tenebris," she said as she looked out over the ship's sleek hull. "It means "Dark Star" in a forgotten language from my home."
Zoey had decided on this based on her Dark Star Heritage. Stella would be the name for the cruiser portion of the ship, and Tenebris would be the title for the smaller, detachable ship. The name itself was part of her history, and in a way it was homage to her old universe and the countless lives lost along with it.
"Stella Tenebris... it does have a rather nice ring to it," Ssaul mused as he scratched his chin.
"Yes, and I do feel rather privileged to know the meaning behind the name," Taigen said with a smile.
"I feel the same," Baiken said. "But you may want to watch out, there seems to be a mutiny afoot."
Zoey turned as the others laughed to find Max sitting on the Captain's chair looking intently at the monitors and the information they displayed. The sight gave Zoey a chuckle as well, but she didn't mind. There would be time to teach him about all of that later.
"704, are we ready for takeoff?" Zoey said aloud.
Everyone on the bridge jumped when a silver sphere suddenly popped into existence on the bridge. It was of course, Custodian 704 who thanks to Zoey's modifications to his codebase could now move freely between the Stella Tenebris and the cube's space.
"All pre-flight checks are good Miss Zoey." responded 704 "We are ready for takeoff."
Zoey nodded and made her way to the Captain's chair where Max still sat. It was a fairly large chair, so she scooted him over and sat next to him as she brought up the flight control stick.
"Let's get going then," she said as she activated the propulsion systems.
As Zoey started to manipulate the controls, the gravity arrays around the ship kicked in and the wind powered RCS thrusters responded to the controls and came to life with a blast of wind. As if defying the laws of physics themselves, the 100 meter long cruiser lifted off the ground with nothing more than a strong breeze.
Inside the ship, the people in the cargo bay barely felt anything as the gravity arrays did their work to negate the inertia effect as much as possible. On the bridge, Taigen and Baiken were exclaiming excitedly as they watched the ground drift away while Ssaul watched over them with a smile.
Next to Zoey on the chair, Max was watching her control the ship with wide, curious eyes, a welcome change to his usual blank stare.
And just like that the newly named Stella Tenebris was airborne with a cargo of over five hundred Asurai clanspeople without a home. Zoey gently pressed the controls forward engaging the rear RCS thrusters to propel the cruiser towards their destination, the depths of the wasteland.
The next step of their adventure awaited.