210 Connected Origins
As soon as Zoey allowed the Dark Star Shard access to her interface, she felt a cool sensation flow through her body along the conduits that channeled her magic, then in the air in front of them, a holographic figure appeared! The image was that of a human female, but it was blurry and faint, and the colors of the projection were flashing through the spectrum as if unsure what color was the best.
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Both Max and Zoey were surprised by the sudden appearance of the hologram, Max especially since he had no idea where it had come from, though he assumed it was Zoey's doing. Zoey understood once she saw the hologram being displayed that it was likely the echo like she had guessed.
The two of them watched and waited as the shifting, blurry image slowly stabilized into a clear holographic image of a human woman. During this time, the projection had eventually stopped cycling through colors and settled on a dim, red-orange color. The woman they could now see clearly had ordinary features and was looking around the area until she saw Max and Zoey standing there waiting for her. Then she spoke.
"Hello. Thank you for allowing us to assist you." said the woman, her voice a soft and soothing mechanical tone that sounded as if it was part human and part computer-generated.
"Allow us to introduce ourselves. We are the remnants of a consciousness that was placed inside the Dark Star, and the Dark Star Shards. We were put in place to assist the Dark Star's host and to ensure their survival."
What the hologram had said confirmed what Zoey had already guessed, but Zoey still had questions.
"What made you come out now? I know that you were there when I was in the mind prison, but why did you never speak before then?" Zoey asked.
"We were only partially awakened when you first acquired the Dark Star Shard, and we are still not fully functioning," said the woman. "Only recently when you absorbed the entity known as "Dungeon Core" were we able to awaken more of ourselves, and we have been trying to adjust since then."
Ah! Zoey remembered the strange place with the mural that she had seen when she had absorbed the Dungeon Core. That scene must have been due to this consciousness awakening in some way.
"So what prompted you to come out now? Is it because of this place?" Zoey asked again.
The woman nodded, then turned to the terminal that Zoey had been unable to activate. She waved a holographic hand, and suddenly the copper plate on top became a liquid that pooled together and started to rapidly form shapes and symbols that made no sense to Zoey.
But even though she could not make sense of the symbols, she was able to recognize them because she had seen them before! The runes and geometric designs that bordered the tattoos on her arm, the strange mosaic she had seen after she had absorbed the Dungeon Core, the designs on her skin when she activated her transformation, all of them were similar to the symbols that the liquid was currently showing!
Zoey's mind was whirling with possibilities, but the only one that made sense was that this massive flying city and her Dark Star Heritage were somehow connected!
"You are partially correct," said the holographic woman over her shoulder as she continued to observe the symbols the liquid was displaying.
"The Dark Star and this place share a common origin, but they are as far apart as a grain of sand is from a mountain. This city is primitive in comparison to what you possess, and could never hope to match what the Dark Star is capable of. That said, they do still share a common origin and this city is considerably more advanced than what this world is currently capable of."
Zoey was stunned by the revelation, and her mind flooded with even more questions.
"So where did this city come from? What is its purpose? Where did the Dark Star come from and what is its purpose? Why am I a part of all of this?!" Zoey asked, a little overwhelmed by her own thoughts.
There was too much unknown information at play, and Zoey was unnerved at it all. Her biggest fear was that she was a pawn in someone's game! Was all of this mess just a joke? Her Dark Star Heritage, her appearance in this universe, the destruction of her old universe, what if it was all just some game being played by some higher existence?!
A small hand suddenly grabbed hers, shaking Zoey out of her spiraling thought train. Max was looking up at her with a concerned look on his face. He had clearly sensed her unease and unsteady state of mind just now, and was worried about her.
Zoey realized while looking at the boy's concerned eyes, that she had been overthinking it. Even if her fears were true, and this was all just some cosmic game that they were a part of, she could only take things one step at a time. Now that her mind had calmed itself down thanks to Max, she turned her attention back to the hologram.
"The origins of this construct and the Dark Star, is a universe apart from this one, that much we are able to say. However, the information we have is still fragmented, so we cannot answer your questions about the purpose of the Dark Star and yourself, but the purpose of this construct is now clear to us.
This place was built to serve as a factory that would endlessly produce a tireless army of machines. The intended use of the machines is not clear."
Zoey nodded in understanding once the woman finished speaking. The parts about herself and the Dark Star could wait. She still had this city and her crew to worry about.
"Can we shut it down somehow? Maybe take control of it?" Zoey asked the woman.
"Impossible," replied the woman shortly. "The construct has entered into a state of emergency lockdown triggered by an organic organism entering the central control structure, which would be this place where we are now. All available manufactories are currently producing machines, and the system is set to target all organic life as hostile."
"Is there nothing we can do? Nothing at all? Not even destroy it?" Zoey asked worriedly.
"Destruction of the construct would result in extreme damage to the landmass below. Any life within one hundred kilometers would be extinguished if the construct is destroyed and falls to the surface. However, there are two control nodes on the surface level of the construct that when activated simultaneously, would return the construct to its dormant state."
Zoey thought about it for a moment, but it was clear that they only option they had was to try and shut the place down. If they didn't, who knows what would happen if the city continued to manufacture the androids without end. It would eventually transform the city into a flying army of unfeeling, bloodthirsty machines!
With that in mind, Zoey was ready to do what she had to do to make it happen.