204 Zoey’s Turmoil
Zoey was concerned. She had noticed that something was different about her friend, and she was trying to make sense of it.
Viridi had changed. It was subtle, but Zoey definitely had noticed a difference when they communicated through their link. In the past, their communications had been images and emotions, but Viridi was actually using words to communicate through their link!
Additionally, she was taking the initiative to make her own decisions in some things, while before she would always follow Zoey's guidance.
Even though Zoey was worried about the change, she still considered it a good thing. She was more concerned with what had caused it... Could it have been when the echo was using Viridi's body to talk to her when she was trapped inside the mind prison? Zoey felt like that was the only explanation that made sense.
With a sigh, Zoey put those thoughts aside. Viridi may have changed, but she was still her companion and friend. That fact would not change.
Besides, she had plenty of other things to worry about. For instance, her interface had indeed been active while she was trapped inside that Mind Prison, although she had not been able to activate it, it had been recording the situation and pulling data the entire time.
Aside from the disturbing visuals of Gaia and the enemy, there was one thing that Zoey strange. In real-time, she had only been trapped inside the mind prison for several hours, but her interface had logged years worth of data. From that information and what she had experienced, Zoey theorized that there had been some form of perception altering effect that artificially extended the time that a prisoner would feel while trapped, perhaps as some bizarre form of punishment put in place by the builders of this city.
She had confirmed that her physical body had not aged a day, but she had clearly experienced a significant length of time in that prison. She would have to watch out for any other traps like this on this city.
The young boy sleeping on her lap suddenly stirred, his sleep being disrupted by a dream. Zoey comforted him until he was sleeping soundly again, carefully brushing his hair away from his eyes.
Max was also a box of mysteries. He had arrived just in the nick of time to prevent Cornelius from getting hold of her, wielding a mysterious power that seemed incredibly strong, and beating the noble into a broken wreck with two strikes.
Where had his sudden strength come from? Had he been hiding it this whole time? Or was it something brought forth by some other event?
Curious, Zoey used her interface to access his Eve. She could go into the logs and see what had happened to him while she had been trapped.
She saw his arrival to the city, and his panic attack when he had awoken. Zoey admired how he handled it, choosing to focus on what he could do instead of something he had no control over. She saw his trek to the bottom of the city through the empty halls and rooms before he finally reached the area where his Eve found the signal from Zoey's interface.
It was here that things started to go awry. Zoey saw the fight between him and Cornelius, her breathing quickened and her fist clenched unconsciously when Max had been hurt, and subsequently fallen into the trap.
Zoey's eyes widened in shock when she saw what happened next. The trap that Max had fallen into also had a time dilation effect, similar to the Mind Prison, but the effect in the trap was significantly higher. Even though Max had only spent 2 hours in there in real-time, his Eve had recorded over two hundred years of time that he spent trapped inside the wall!
Two hundred years! Zoey's mind was numb just thinking about it! She watched in shock as he walked through the endless ash, never stopping even once. Then he reached the wall, and to Zoey's shock and dismay, he started beating his fists into it! The vast amount of time that Max had suffered inside that trap had been at that wall, the blood from his knuckles staining the ash beneath his feet black.
Then finally, after what seemed like an endless amount of time, the moment arrived when he had stopped punching the wall, standing still for a moment before suddenly, the strange violet and purple aura that Zoey had seen before appeared around him, and shortly after that he had broken through the wall, successfully making his way back to reality.
What Zoey had discovered sent her mind into turmoil. She felt anger at herself that she had not been able to prevent what had happened to him. She felt sadness that a boy so young had been exposed to so much hardship and torment because she had not been there to protect him. She felt that she had to do better, to do a better job of protecting those important to her so that an event like this would never happen again.
She gathered her thoughts after a moment before returning her attention back to the interface and everything that was happening there. There was a lot on her mind, but she needed to focus on the problems in front of her. She would talk to Max after all this about what he had gone through.
As she checked the map to make sure everyone was moving safely, her interface suddenly blinked, signaling that someone was trying to contact her. She accepted the contact, noting that it was General Saigo who was calling her.
"Zoey! I think we may have a little trouble here!" Saigo's voice sounded a little worried when it came through her earpiece.
"What's going on?" Zoey asked as she amplified the map to better display the portion of the city where Saigo, Ssaul, and their group of people were.
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They were located in an area that a lot of other paths and structures led to. Zoey had guided them there so they could meet up with some other scattered groups before moving on.
"Ahh, well… We had a prisoner, a merc from the noble forces, and she might have gotten away and… she seems to have activated something big!"
Zoey frowned and pulled up some footage from their Eves to see who it had been. She was surprised to see a familiar face, Serena from the Siren Vultures!