166 The Approaching Storm
Zoey was currently on the bridge, standing by the front windows, staring out into the swirling fog and mist. In a way, the turbulent clouds were a reflection of her thoughts at the moment as she tried to formulate a plan.
The information she had gained from Markus Rellen had been helpful, but the source and validity of it was questionable. She couldn't trust him, which was why he was imprisoned for now. But she could not dismiss what he had said either...
The choice she was left with in the end was to run, or to stay and face whatever decided to show up head on. It was an easy choice in the end.
She had decided to stay and fight. Running would not solve the problem, and she would have to face this foe eventually. May as well face it now and stomp it out.
So the next step was figuring out how to handle the problem of an armada. She had a plan for that already, but it needed some revisions now that she knew a little more about what to expect. Her biggest worry was Cornelius Rellen, a Rank 7 warrior on the cusp of reaching Rank 8, a fearsome manuipulator and powerful in combat as well, he was the greatest single threat coming her way.
She was only a Rank 5, and despite her power and abilities, she would be hard pressed to directly compete with a Rank 7. General Saigo and Ssaul were both late stage Rank 4 warriors, only a step away from Rank 5, but against Cornelius they were only cubs to a lion.
To make matters worse, it was all conjecture based on info she got from a Rellen of all things. Zoey sighed and rubbed her forehead. It would be difficult, but not impossible. But to make it happen, she had to prepare. She had to be ready for every eventuality and unknown. If she could adequately prepare, then even if Cornelius himself came at her she would be able to win.
So she got to work.
First, her high altitude drones were all called back, refueled and sent out in a massive search pattern, watching for the incoming armada. If they showed up, she wanted to know as soon as possible.
Next she informed the Asurai clan of the situation and evaluated the volunteers that Taigen and Saigo had gathered for her.
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In total there were 4 lieutenants accompanied by 4 squads of Asurai warriors that had volunteered, most of them were the remaining warriors that had been the last line of defence for the clan before Zoey had saved them. They had volunteered because they wanted to pay back the debt they owed Zoey, and they were eager to help.
There was Azai, the young, fresh-faced leader of 1st Squad; Bassa, the grizzled veteran in command of 2nd Squad; Chozo, the stone-faced leader of 3rd Squad, and finally, 4th Squad led by Datoi, a stocky woman with a stern face and warm eyes.
Finally there was a group of youngsters and non-combatants that had showed up led by a boy named Sai, who Zoey learned was a healer that had worked tirelessly to save his clanmates back in the canyon.
Zoey got to know them all and started to form a plan around who she had available and what skills they brought to the table. She had a plan that needed able bodied and adaptable people that she could train.
Once that was all sorted, she got busy giving the Stella Tenebris her teeth, and rather sharp teeth at that. These teeth would be in the form of weapon systems manned by her volunteers. They had to be effective, and simple enough to be used by newly trained personnel. If she had time, perhaps she could have come up with a better solution, but for now it would have to do.
The top deck of the Stella Tenebris had three gunnery platforms, one in the nose of the cruiser, and one at the end of each wing. These platforms were designed to be bunkers and had armored shutters that opened to the outside, with the wing platforms allowing a 270 degree horizontal and 45 degree vertical viewing angle, and the nose platform having a more constricted field of view due to its positioning and design.
Zoey spent 2 days designing and fabricating the weapons she had decided on, setting each gunnery platform up with a suitable arrangement of firepower. Additionally she installed some defensive arrays that would protect the personnel on the gunnery platform in case it was hit.
She completed the setup of the stations just in time too, because on the third day after Markus Rellen and arrived, Zoey's drones sighted the armada that Markus had warned her of. It seemed like he had not been fabricating the story, and Zoey found it rather ridiculous that someone would go this far as she watched the armada of over 30 Kreppelin warships headed their way.
How was she worth all of this effort? Just to capture her a literal armada had been prepared and set out, each consuming enough power to fuel a city for a month. Zoey was actually getting angrier the more she thought about it. It was ridiculous, and she would show them exactly how ridiculous it was by turning that armada into driftwood.
By the speed the Rellen armada was approaching, she had about 3 days of time remaining. In those three days, Zoey got every one of her new volunteers trained as best she could on the weaponry they would be using, making sure that everyone was as prepared as possible for their roles.
Eve proved to be an invaluable assistant in all this as she was able to translate what Zoey wanted to teach into programs that the volunteers could easily access and review when needed. Zoey was sure that without Eve, none of her plan would have been possible.
Through all of this, Zoey had a nagging discomfort in the back of her mind, like someone was trying to tell her something, but she pushed the feeling aside and focused on what she had to do.
Finally, the third day arrived as the Rellen armada approached the sinkhole where the Stella Tenebris lay hidden. With the armada came a storm at its back, spouting lightening and thunder as it pushed the sails of the armada towards its target.
Zoey had done as much as she could with what she had. She had prepared herself, and made sure that her crew was also prepared.
The only thing left was to rise up and meet the oncoming storm with their own thunder.
And oh! What thunder it would be!