173 Inside the Storm
What Zoey saw through the bridge windows was Cornelius's flagship, surrounded by a blue light as it was slowly being pulled upwards, into the thunder and lightning split sky by some kind of energy tether. On the deck she could see the red energy of whatever had been inside the crystal glowing with sinister light, but she could not make out what it was from here.
She was sure it had shattered, but what was it? Maybe Markus would know more. The important question was what was the blue light and why was it taking Cornelius's ship into the sky?
Suddenly an alarm rang across the bridge as Custodian 704 appeared behind Zoey.
"Miss Zoey, we have been arrested by some kind of tractor beam and have lost all propulsion."
Startled, Zoey looked outside, then at her interface, then back outside. She could see the same blue light around the outside of the Stella Tenebris now, and they were being pulled upwards!
"Can you break us free?" Zoey asked urgently as she scanned the data being gathered by her ship's sensors.
"I'm afraid not Miss Zoey," said 704. "Without the main engines installed I simply do not have enough thrust to break the tractor beam. It appears to be an extremely strong type of electromagnetic field that is being manipulated to form the beam. It won't be easy to break."
"Whats going on?" Saigo asked as he and the others joined Zoey at the window.
"Something is pulling us into the sky, and I'm not sure what. 704, can you scan above us with the drones?" Zoey said.
"Negative Miss Zoey. There seems to be something interfering with our sensors and the drones." replied 704.
"So what do we do?" Taigen asked worriedly.
Zoey could see that they were all a bit worried, and so was she. She had only just finished dealing with one threat and had been ready to take the final head off the hydra, now there was another possible threat facing her and her crew.
She should have killed Cornelius when she first had the chance! Why didn't she kill him? Mercy? Righteousness? Those feelings were weaknesses that she didn't need to survive! They were unnecessary!
Zoey furrowed her brow as thoughts swept through her mind. She didn't have time to think about this right now, she had to focus on whatever was pulling her cruiser into the sky.
"704, how far up is whatever is pulling us?" she asked as she rubbed her forehead.
"Judging by the interference and the dead zone its causing, its big, and it's somewhere inside that thundercloud," 704 replied.
"Well, we should see it soon then," Baiken said as she waved at the thunderclouds they were approaching.
They all stood there on the bridge and watched as the Stella Tenebris was lifted up and info the clouds. Lightning danced across the hull and thunder boomed as they rose, illuminating the battle scarred armor of the Stella Tenebris, the ship that had protected them from everything the noble armada had thrown at them. They could only hope that it would protect them one more time.
Then, they broke through the clouds. All of them including Zoey felt their eyes widen in shock and disbelief as they struggled to understand what they were seeing.
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The inside of the thunderclouds was hollow, a massive sphere that looked to be hundreds, maybe thousands of kilometers in diameter. Its entire inner circumference was thunderclouds, roiling and flashing with lightning as if it was some type of protective barrier.
The space inside this thundercloud sphere was not empty. No, it was not empty at all.
Floating in the sky inside this impossible phenomena was a city! It was a massive, circular city, stretching out above them like a small planet. They could only see the bottom, as they were beneath it and being pulled up towards the city's underbelly, a mess of spires and needle-like towers that followed no discernible pattern.
As they got closer, Zoey realized that the architecture was gothic in nature, with the towers flanked by flying buttresses, pointed arches that rose over bridges that connected the spires and towers to form a labyrinthian mess of buildings.
"That's a floating city," Taigen said, disbelief in his voice.
"What, is this the first one you've seen?" Baiken retorted, but she was clearly just as in awe as the rest of them.
"Never in all my decades have I seen a wonder such as this!" Ssaul whispered in shock while next to him Max and Saigo were both quiet, simply standing and staring at the city as it got closer.
For Zoey, this city was an unknowable danger, a threat that she could not yet quantify, and that was scarier than anything. Why had it shown up here? Was it related to the red crystal that Cornelius had shattered? Cornelius and his Kreppelin had been pulled up as well, but why?
They would know soon enough, because the Stella Tenebris was not far from the city now. They were passing the lowest spires as they rose, and the close proximity to the city allowed them to realize how truly massive it was. Some of the bigger towers on the underside were almost a kilometer from tip to base, and it stood to reason that the underbelly of the city had the small towers.
As they were drawn closer they could see grand cathedrals and castles, all hanging underneath the city like stalactites on the roof of a cave. A bizarre and unreal scene that had them all mesmerized by the sheer fantasy of it all.
"There! It looks like its pulling us there," Ssaul said, pointing his claw at a structure that the blue light pulling the Stella Tenebris seemed to be originating from.
It was a strange structure, looking almost like a drydock for ships from what Zoey could see, and there wasn't only one of them either. There were hundreds, possibly thousands of the drydocks clustered on the underside of the city like honeycomb in a hive.
Zoey grew uneasy as they were pulled closer and closer, then finally into the building. She could only watch as massive mechanical appendages reached out from the walls and clamped down on the cruiser, keeping it in place as the tractor beam deactivated.
Just as everything seemed to settle, a white light suddenly enveloped everyone on the bridge. They all froze, wondering what the light was, hoping that it wasn't something harmful, but the sinking feeling they all had told them otherwise. Zoey's mind was whirling as she tried to figure out what was happening, but in the next second, right before her eyes, the others disappeared with a flash of white light! Before she could even react, her own vision went white, and she disappeared as well!
On the bridge of the Stella Tenebris there was only silence and a silver sphere looking around in confusion.
"Miss Zoey? I seem to have... I seem to have lost my connection to you. Are you there? Hello? Oh dear... it seems that the entire crew has been taken away... What should I do Miss Zoey? What should I do..."
So, I know everyone feels strongly about Zoey and some of her choices so far in the story, and that's good! I'm happy that you all care!
It might be a bit messy how I've been structuring some events and reasonings, but I do have reasons for why Zoey acts the way she does, and you will soon find out why!
This does not mean I'm not listening to you, and I do want to know what everyone thinks as it helps me improve as an author. (this is my first work after all)
So, thanks for the feedback and criticism, I'm glad you care enough to comment!
Thank you for reading!