The sound of the alert snapped Zoey out of the stupor that the view had placed her in, and it was only a moment till she accepted the connection to see who was trying to contact her.
"Miss Zoey, it is good to finally hear from you again."
She was pleasantly surprised to hear Custodian 704's voice come through her earpiece. In the mayhem and urgency of getting her crew to safety, she had momentarily pushed her worries about the Stella Tenebris and 704 to the back of her mind. Now that things were mostly headed in the right direction, she could focus on the things that still needed dealing with.
"Hey 704, it's good to hear from you too. How are things with the ship?" Zoey asked with a smile.
"Ah yes, I have managed to free the Stella Tenebris from the clutches of this vile disassembly plant with minimal structural damage, and have maintained position while awaiting your orders, Miss Zoey," replied 704. "Some of the outer hull plates had to be sacrificed to get free of those mechanical arms, but I have recovered them and repaired the damage."
"Good work," Zoey said through the comm-link as she looked at her map, then asked, "Can you take the ship out of that area and fly her up to the upper section?"
Zoey could see that the Stella Tenebris was still sitting where she had first been pulled to by the strange tractor-beam, and that was located at the underside of the city. If she wanted to get her crew back on board safe and sound, she needed her ship up and airborne.
"I'm afraid I am unable to do this Miss Zoey… The energy field that pulled us up here is still very much active, and is preventing the Stella Tenebris from moving even a centimeter. Whatever this field is, it will have to be deactivated in order for me to fly the ship to you," 704 replied, regret coloring his synthetic voice.
Zoey sighed. One more thing to deal with on her ever growing list of tasks. "Okay, do your best to look around and try to identify where we can shut down that field and free the ship. Let me know what you find."
"Understood, Miss Zoey," replied 704
Zoey ended the connection and immediately contacted Saigo. She saw that almost all of her scattered crew had made it to the structure on the surface of the city, and they were no doubt waiting to hear from her.
It only took a moment for Saigo to answer, his Eve allowing Zoey to see his surroundings through her interface. He was standing inside a circular structure that resembled a stadium that was open to the sky in the center. The structure was fairly large, and Zoey could see all of the Asurai around Saigo as everyone worked to help any injured and set up defences in the area. Zoey thought it rather smart that they were preparing defences. They might need them soon.
"Zoey! Good to see you!" Saigo exclaimed as his Eve displayed a holographic render of Zoey for him to speak to. "How did things go down there? I saw thousands of those machines coming out of the walls on the way up here, and I was a little worried!"
"We're fine, Max and Viridi are with me, and we managed to get out alright, but we were not able to stop the city from waking up. Serena activated a lockdown defence system that will be hard to shut down, so make sure you are all ready for a fight," Zoey said to him.
"I understand," Saigo replied, then said with a somber tone, "As far as I know, only you three, Baiken, the new gal Athena, and that Rellen prisoner are still not here, but we are still missing some people according to Eve… any ideas where they might be?"
Zoey thought about what she knew so far, then said to him, "It's hard to say Saigo… Max was trapped inside some strange place that blocked all signals from getting out, so some of them may still be trapped on the city where the Eve signals can't reach, but it is unlikely they have survived this long… Max is a special case, and I don't think ordinary people will be able to survive and break free like he did. I'll keep looking, but for now we need to focus on saving the ones we can."
Saigo felt pained when he heard the information that they may have lost even more of their clan's people. They had suffered so much loss already, and he had already seen through Eve that some of their people had been killed on this city, either by the noble soldiers roaming about or other dangers like the traps and machinery that was ever-present. The clan was already so low in numbers, and now the ones that were missing were likely dead as well...
He found Zoey's words hard to swallow, but in the end he agreed that they had to focus on what they could accomplish. It was already a miracle that they had managed to gather everyone together on this nightmarish maze of a city, but thanks to Zoey and her remarkable gifts, they had a better chance to survive than they ever would have had on their own.
"So, what should we do now?" Saigo asked Zoey as he watched two young men setting up a barricade nearby.
"Defend that place as best you can. There are a lot of machines waking up, and more being made every second so things may get rough. Eve will show you where they are located, so try and stay low for now and don't attract attention. I will go see to Baiken and Athena before they cause trouble, and from there we will make plans on what to do next," Zoey said.
Saigo promptly acknowledged, then closed the connection as he went off to direct the efforts to fortify the building they had chosen. Meanwhile, Zoey turned her attention back to the patiently waiting Max and Viridi. The three of them were still cruising high above the city while Zoey had talked, and now they were ready to get back into action.
Zoey wasted no time, and sent Viridi the location where Baiken, Athena, and Markus were. Viridi then adjusted her magnificent shadowy wings and turned them towards the city, swooping down towards the towering metal spires that were starting to spew out black smoke now that more and more of the city was waking up.
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Somehow, Zoey had to shut the city down before the horde of androids it was producing became a deadly threat, and she had to free her ship and rescue her crew while she was at it. Typical Thursday afternoon, Zoey mused wryly to herself as she checked the time.
Things were sure to get interesting soon...