A Newfound Hope In Level 811
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Chapter 1: A newfound hope.

4th of January, 2010

Things were oddly somber at the Lost's Mayan outpost in Level 2. While reunions were often filled with chatter, a gloomy atmosphere filled the room, and no one dared to make a sound. It wasn't often that all the elders were present, and the fact that they had postponed the morning hunt meant only trouble. The elders sat at the center of the group, silently glaring at those around them with a serious expression, gathering their attention, until one of them broke the silence.

"I'd wager everyone is already aware of why we requested an urgent reunion, but for those that aren't directly involved with the matter, I will explain what happened."

There was a short pause as Xpiayoc the Wise regained his breath.

"Repairing the ancient relics of Titanis Sepulcrum with our current manpower and equipment has proven to be a fruitless endeavour. The process would take far too much time and effort, things we cannot afford to waste now. We must keep moving, keep our people safe, well-rested, and fed. I ask of you all to cease your restoration efforts and instead focus on gathering food for the long road ahead of us."

One by one, the remaining elders nodded in agreement, and so did all the people surrounding them — until someone spoke up.

"Great leader, are we really going to abandon them to their destiny? After everything they've done to protect us in the past. Are we just going to leave them all to rot? Our ancestors were there… during those battles, they fought alongside them, we were their allies! We can't abandon them! Not after everything!"

The one who dared to speak up was a young woman in the front row. She had bronze skin and long black hair that reached her back, covering one of her deep brown eyes. She glared at the elders with disbelief, sadness and indignation. She was wearing a typical colorful quechquemitl over her light orange dress, with a pair of brown sandals peeking from under the long skirt.

The rest of the group quickly turned their gaze to her. Some were shocked, some disappointed, expecting the elders to react badly.

"Zyanya, you are too young and your heart is too kind to understand the reason of our choice. You are not a leader, and you cannot comprehend what it takes to keep this community running, which sometimes, requires hard choices to be made. We cannot let any more of our people use their time to repair the Titans when our resources run low, and might not suffice without enough hunting, not to mention the injuries these repairs may cause on our people."

There was a short pause, before he continued with a softer tone.

"I understand that you wish to do the right thing, but sometimes it's impossible, as too many factors may damage us."

Zyanya did not seem to back down. Her determination had only grown stronger.

"I understand the complications of such repairs, great leader, but I have various ideas that could help us speed up the work and use less resources and volunteers! If you concentrate a single group on just one Titan with less parts to repair, and enough strength, we may restore it faster and use its help to carry large parts and fix other Titans, which would allow the rest of our group to take care of hunting and accumulate other resources while only a few are busy with the repairs!"

She regained her breath, then she spewed out one last hopeful attempt.

"Please, consider this option! Not all hope is lost!"

The great leader looked at Zyanya with a serious, yet apologetic face. "I'm sorry, young Zyanya, but the choice has already been made. Finding a mech meeting your criteria may be rare, or impossible, we cannot risk this… I'm deeply sorry."

The elders get up, heading deep into the nearby hallways, the rest of the group splitting up and following them.

Defeated, but becoming increasingly frustrated, she looks down with an upset expression as another woman was trying to calm her down, but failing to do so.

"I will prove you wrong. I will go there and fix one myself. I won't let them down. I won't abandon anyone… no matter how long it'll take!"

The girl ran all the way into a makeshift hut, and began filling a large, handmade bag with mechanical tools, a grey pipe, food and water, glue, pain, paper, anything she could use, which took her about 10 minutes.

The girl then heads outside the outpost as the leader watches her leave, hoping she would change her mind and stop this nonsense.

Since a very young age, Zyanya always sought to do good, bring justice, and do great things in her life. She had, as the Elders themselves put it, a very special talent with machinery, matched only by the Macchina, the long gone allies and friends to the Lost. She wishes to help those that helped them in the past, and to know more about her ancestors' legacy, despite the refusal of the elders to assist.

These were the thoughts crossing Zyanya's mind as she moved through the hallways, following the pipes lit by glowing, circuit-like lines that guided her. It didn't take long for her to stumble upon the exit, a door with a familiar looking dagger carved into it, an ancient relic of Macchina design. She's heard countless times how to open these doors, and she pulled the knife rather than the doorknob. Zyanya tries her best to keep her composure and contain her excitement. She had wished to do this for ages, and that opportunity had finally come. As she opened the door, she reminded herself to breathe.

Crossing the door, she finds herself in a large grassy field in Level 811, feeling the wind gently brush her hair. She walks forward, stopping occasionally to look at stone structures and mechanical parts scattered around.

"There are so many broken parts… identifying which belongs to which Titan may take a while, but I'm sure that I can do it just by looking at the design and structure… let me start drawing a map for myself."

Zyanya began to hastily sketch out her surroundings without paying too much attention to detail. Even her scribbles could pass for a useful map. She marked the spots of several mechanical limbs and pieces, in case she needed them later. She reached an area surrounded by trees and rivers. The air was humid and the soil seemed soft, maybe even fertile enough to grow crops. She stored some river water on a bucket she was carrying. It was crystal clear, and looked safe enough to drink.

"What's that over there? That looks like… a Titan! I finally found one! Ah… it seems to be in bad condition, but at least most of its parts are attached to its body; it'll be a bit easier to repair it."

As Zyanya approached the Titan, she drew a mark on her map and grabbed a couple of tree branches, gluing them together. She uses red paint to colour this spot, so when she comes back, she will see it from a distance.

The colossal Titan was of a light orange colour, its armour decorated in a pattern similar to a jaguar's. It reminded Zyanya of old depictions of ancient gods. The Titan had giant sharp claws on its only surviving hand, along with two large axes on its back that were full of dents, probably caused by battles.

On its head, there were two mechanical feline ears. It had a large jaguar-like tail, attached to its back. Its eyes also seemed to have a feline shape, although it was pretty difficult to notice.

Since it was sitting down, Zyanya was able to climb onto its large leg, and she was able to enter inside a small hatch in its chest area, that was left half open, which allowed her to stumble upon a cockpit.

Mesmerized, the girl looked around. There seemed to be various monitors and panels with several buttons; all of them seemed to be turned off. The cockpit was also quite dark, apart from the light coming from the outside, which illuminated a large seat in the middle. The hatch didn't stay open for long— it closed immediately after Zyanya entered. She could feel the entire room shifting, and various mechanical sounds could be heard.

Soon afterwards, she was placed in the seat in the center of the cockpit, her limbs encased by metallic tubes. A visor, resembling a helm, was placed over her head. Zyanya felt a slight pain in her back, head and neck, but it went away quickly.

She was honestly surprised, maybe a bit concerned or afraid, but she wasn't going to back down now. She had a goal, and a bit of pain wouldn't make her give up. The monitor on her visor suddenly lit up…

A strange orange symbol appeared on the monitor. It resembled a jaguar's head, and it was visibly glitching. There was also some text under the symbol that Zyanya couldn't read quite well, as the screen disappeared pretty quickly, before she could process anything. She could, however, read the name TEPEYOLLOTL-T903.11 at the top left of the screen, along with several numbers on the right.

Following that screen, she could now see an image of an ancient jaguar-like deity on her monitor, also tinted in orange.

For a second, she thought that nothing else would appear, but she was immediately proven wrong when text started appearing on her visor.

Zyanya thought to herself. "Bacab? So these Titans have some sort of AI installed in them that assists the pilot? And they can also detect the damaged parts and the pilot's own health? That's incredibly cool! Should make the repairs easier, I hope…" She was now waiting for the rest of the information to show up on her monitor.

She could now see the environment around the Titan on her visor, and then text appeared once more.

Zyanya felt sadness enter her heart. Reading the words of the AI communicating to her made her understand just how much suffering they had went through, being confined to this area, unable to move or walk.

She firmly believed she had to help.

There is no hope left…" those words echoed in Zyanya's brain. She would not accept that. She wouldn't accept giving up, nor would she abandon the Titan. Those who suffer deserve help— that is what her relatives have taught her, that was the purpose of creating the Titans after all, to protect, to help…

…and never leave others behind.

Zyanya felt a slight shock in her head. It felt like Bacab and herself were one consciousness, sharing their minds fully.

On the monitor, her thoughts and words were now shown. She could now communicate with the AI - Bacab.

The cockpit's door opened as Tepeyollotl seemed to turn off. Bacab's voice also stopped. Zyanya figured that Bacab needs her to be connected to the machines in order to communicate.

Zyanya crossed her arms, silently looking at her bucket. She will have to put that “blood of the creators” Bacab talked about to good use, but that would take quite some time.

She concentrates, making some odd movements… slowly, the bucket begins to levitate towards the river. Zyanya holds her focus, filling the bucket,, then she lifts it up towards the refill opening, and begins pouring water inside until it’s full. The entire process took at least 5 hours, but it was finally done.

Zyanya was exhausted, so much so that she threw herself in the lake, drinking a lot of fresh water, and taking a little time to relax in it.

"Phew! That was exhausting… but a great start!— I think, just took five hours, so that should be fine! I should probably tell Bacab that I finished, at least they will feel more energised!”

She dug into her handmade bag, pulling out a delicious quesadilla with onion and bell peppers, along with some tamales, since hunger was starting to take it’s toll. Zyanya wonders if her stomach is connected to Bacab's while she's in the cockpit, and if they can even feel the taste of the food. “They must be starving,” she thinks, “and even if they don't really have a physical body, anything can be possible right?”

She climbed into the cockpit again, rushing to tell Bacab the good news, and after the same set of images and information, she was able to communicate again.

Zyanya spent a long time looking for fertile terrain near a river. Once she found some, she used her fingers to dig into it in order to plant some vegetables, she then watered her recently planted seeds and realized it was getting chilly.

"Brr… I should probably go back so I can sleep, it's getting cold in here…my poor hands!"

She sniffles slightly but reminds herself she just has to warm up, as she returns to the unit's cockpit.

The unit had some sort of temperature control system. Although it was not strong, it helped.

Zyanya put a pillow on the back of her head and wrapped a blanket around her before she spoke with Bacab again.

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