189 Encounter with the Stranger
Markus Rellen once again found himself staring at the back of the woman he had been following through the massive flying city for the past few hours. He had known many impressive women in his life, but this one was quite the powerhouse!
She was strong, smart, quick-witted, and not to mention easy on the eyes. He had been dragged along with her like a passenger on a Kreppelin and in the process had come to admire this woman and her style of handling things. It also helped him with keeping his mind off Zoey.
"Keep staring at my ass pretty boy, and we are going to have a problem."
Markus blushed and turned his gaze away when the woman admonished him. She was rather fiery, and Markus would rather not get her angry. The way she handled that wrench was like a painter to a canvas, and if she used it on him, his chances of survival would be very low. So instead he turned his attention and thoughts to the city they were making their way through.
When they had first encountered each other and headed off, they had been located in the lower, hanging part of the city. Since then they had made their way up and into the city itself, finding themselves in a labyrinth of mechanical corridors and rooms that were a nightmare to navigate.
Thankfully, the woman Markus was following seemed to have some way of mapping their route with the 'Eve' on her wrist that she kept talking to from time to time. He could only assume, because his bracelet seemed to only function as a seal for his power.
Anyway, she was leading through the place with purpose, and it didn't seem like they were lost yet. The strange thing was that there were none of the mechanical puppets, or droids as the woman called them, anywhere in this part of the city. It was empty and quiet, all the machines dormant and unmoving as if they had been so for many years.
Markus did not know their destination, or where the woman was leading him to, but he knew he had to stay with her if he wanted to stay alive. Though he did not deserve any of this after the things he had been a part of in his life, he had been given a second chance now, so he would make the best of it.
Baiken sighed as Eve's map revealed another dead end ahead of her. It had been hours since she had dragged the noble up here and started to look around, and she was no closer to finding a way out of this section than she had been.
Well, actually there was only one more possibility, one more direction on the map that she had yet to check, and if it was not a way out, then they would have to find another route.
Thankfully though, the droids that the lower hanging portion of the city had been infested with were not a problem up here. The place was empty and deserted. Dust and disrepair was everywhere, hinting that it had been a long time since anything had happened in this place. That was fine with Baiken. She had no desire to see this place woken up.
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She headed off to the final unchecked section of her map with the pervert noble following along. If he kept making eyes at her like that she would dunk him in the next vat of oil she found!
Before long they closed in on their destination, and Baiken breathed a sigh of relief when the map showed her that there was indeed an exit up ahead. She increased her pace, almost leaving Markus behind, wanting to get out of the cramped labyrinth of corridors that they had been stuck in for hours.
Markus was surprised at her sudden hurry and struggled to keep up, making Baiken laugh at his awkward running. It was a symptom of being used to a large amount of physical strength and having it taken away, which had happened to Markus when Zoey sealed his strength.
What amused Baiken even further was that he knew she was laughing at him and actually started to pout like a child! She could barely contain her laughter by the time she reached the way to the next area and waited for the noble to catch up.
The grumpy look he gave her when he finally did reach her only made Baiken grin wider at his misfortune, the humorous situation a pleasant distraction from her other worries.
She did after a moment turn her attention back to the exit. It was a lift of sorts, similar to the ones in the Stella Tenebris, but mechanical and driven by gears and machinery. The two of them got on board and Baiken pulled the lever, sending them upwards with some clunking and grinding from the internals of the lift on the way.
It was a rather long ride up, during which the two of them didn't say much. After all, what could two people who were at opposite ends of a sword speak of? One was a noble, one of the strongest and most feared organizations on the continent, and the other had her clan decimated and her home burned by the very same nobles, the same family Markus was a part of in fact.
Baiken was not someone to hold on to grudges, and she did realize that Markus was too young to have had anything to do with the destruction of her clan, but she was not inclined to let him off that easy. So for now, despite finding him amusing, she would keep her makeshift club ready in case he tried anything.
The rather lengthy lift ride came to a halt, the doors sliding open and revealing their destination. They stepped outside, both of them feeling their jaws dropping in shock as they took in the sight laid out before them.
Before Baiken could make sense of anything she was looking at, she found herself staring at the sharp end of a spear pointed at her neck!
She then heard a voice with a rich musical timbre just as she looked up to meet a pair beautiful topaz eyes looking at her with interest.
"My oh my. You're a cutie aren't you? And a handsome young lad as a bonus! Is it my birthday?"
Baiken and Markus were stunned speechless as they stared at the woman before them and the sight behind her. What was going on? Who was this strange woman?!