[Warning — Unlisted military equipment detected in Bay 2.]
Opal’s system assistant, the program that helped keep the pressure of running an entire skyscraper-sized prototype spaceship from melting down her tens of servers. The spider bots were swarming around the bay as SD-1 – the construction drone she’d grown quite fond of using – slowly slide down into the bay. The flashlight illuminated three MBTs thrown against the bay’s opposite wall.
Moonlight cast her shadow across the large dented metal crates decorated their bodies as SD-1’s scanner ran over them. Thousands of little red fireflies fell past Opal’s metal puppet, the other drones cut away small sectors that were compromised. Bay 2 was not a large room like Bay 1. It was just a small offset room for loading in smaller vehicles – like the MBTs.
But while that was fine in Opal’s lens, she knew they should have never been on board. The Walkers and the Comanches were different. They had officially loaded up enough firepower to protect the settlement Ark Omega was originally intended to create. But the bay, 200ft by 50ft floor space by 30ft high, held slightly less firepower than the large room it was connected to.
The MBTs weren’t just any normal MBTs. They were the top of the line versions of the ABRAMs line. Much like the civilian line of cars like Chevy Silverado or Suburban, or the F-150s, the UA Council loved continuing legacies. And the ABRAMs line was one of them. Modeled to resemble the Old World versions that’d come before it, it was drastically better.
Their chassis were painted tan and were only scratched up from being thrown around. Even their turrets hadn’t bent, thus Opal guessed these may have been new prototypes.
After the scan was completed, it moved onto the walls. Where scores of perfectly organized tools had once hung, deep indents where the MBTs had hit replaced them. A few tools were still embedded into the thin inner walls, but most of them had been scattered amongst the debris that was the tank pile below.
Once the drone had repelled down onto the first metal crate, Opal angled the bot so its low-quality camera could read the words.
[120mm Kinetic-Energy rounds. 20rd box.] The system displayed on the HUD, though, Opal could read what it said perfectly. With the crate read, Opal could now identify these hidden crates. A quick area scan, meant only to detect known items, revealed that there were 20 loaded creates of this munition within the bay. There were also other tagged crates below, in the side bay below.
Opal felt frustration pulse through her for a moment before the calmness returned. The unregistered cargo would have to be cleaned up and moved. It would set them back half a day to move the MBTs from their positions. That was if they weren’t remote operable. The MBTs themselves held no information tags for Opal to read, thus, no information on their abilities. So, the drones began to cut a hole into the service doors that lead into the main bay.
As they went to work, Opal strung herself back up through the hole. While it would’ve been easier to cut away the pretty trees on the outer hull, she’d felt an odd inclination to keep them there. The compelling reason was to preserve the landscape to hide as much of themselves as they could. Opal felt this wasn’t the real reason she wanted the trees to stay.
She looked to the large pile of metal that’d grown just outside the main bay’s entrance. A few drones were refashioning metal plates. They hammered away with their powerful legs and wielded anything remotely usable into solid plates. With the order given, they’d be fashioned into newly constructed flooring. Opal looked beyond the pile, noting how the head of the ship was straight. Horribly damaged, but still straight. From there, between the trees, she could see the hull slowly twist to the side until there was a 40-degree angle.
It was the worst further down, until near the last mile or so of the ship. Where the boosters should have been. those had been completely ripped off, and probably lying somewhere beyond her immediate reach. On this front, Opal really wanted that piece of the ship back. She wanted the metal to help refashion the ship into a suitable settlement. Using SD-1 to get around was easy enough, but the drone lacked any defensive or offensive options.
It was simply a construction drone.
The camera panned over the lake below. It’s surface a sheet of silver for a moment before a small ripple of the bright silver caught her attention. While the forest was pitch black, something gleamed for a moment. Bright enough to catch her attention. The camera tried to focus but just wasn’t enough light for the low-res camera to make anything detailed out. Then, several more gleams showed up. Opal could make out the slightest hint that something, or somethings, were on the beach.
Maybe watching her.
[Warning – Motion detected. Estimated at 2.3 miles away. Attempting show of force.] The Defense system reported on her HUD. The callout was unnecessary as she could see the information processed the moment it got it. This was one of those moments where user-friendly systems were a drawback. They always operated as if a human was waiting for its report. There wasn’t a way for her to change it either – not without rebooting her entire system.
Opal sent a station-wide order for all the SDs to appear on the temporary deck. Quickly, tens of lights appeared beside her as the machines quickly lined up next to her. This created a wall of lights that, while not powerful enough to illuminate anything out of 60ft range. It did its purpose. What Opal had thought may have been tree trunks broke apart into several figures and slipped back into the darkness.
Opal waited exactly ten minutes before she ordered the drones back to work. She also left a single SD topside to watch for activity. The Defense systems would handle that. She wanted it to stop sending her error reports about its inability to use any weapons.
— ¦ —
The IFV-Walker’s servos howled in protest as Opal moved it ever so forward. Its heavy raptor-like feet thudded hollowly against the newly created deck at the bottom of the main bay. Several spider drones clung to each of its legs, each equipped with small lubrication canisters. Each applied as needed until the only a soft soothing hum called out when it moved.
The floor panel was constructed several feet above the mound of earth. It had to be done in sectors, this was so the SDs could transfer all the loose items onto the new floor. Sunlight poured down the old slated bay doors, and Opal was happy that she could explore her surroundings. Behind her, all the SDs not clinging to her were busy repairing the UAV. Around them, newly found crates of small arms had been left untouched.
Just more things for her to log in to her servers, but she didn’t fret. They could wait. Before her, the roughly cut entrance into the Ark awaited her. Sunlight cutting slightly into the ship. The Walker crossed into the light, and it’s high-resolution camera panned over the lake. The opening came out just over the lake. There was nothing Opal or the drones could do at the moment aside from rerouting the entrance.
That was out of the question as the forest was more than 100ft away, and any further would be a waste of resources to do. So, Opal put that course of action into the red and pushed forward. The thick hardened steel armored legs plunged into the clear water. Sand clouds blossomed beneath as the water came up nearly ten feet up. Opal found it acceptable, and strode forward; scattering the fish that’d been swimming peaceful nearby.
The morning sun rose over the half-moon summit on the opposite side of the lake. It’s glowing warmness looked like a Christmas tree topper, as it’s bottom aligned with the summit.
The camera, attached to the nose-mounted weapon system, turned to it’s left then right. Gauging the depth of the water, Opal went left as the sand rose that way. The way right-left deeper into the lake slightly. As the heavy IFV waltzed forward, there were several spots where her feet sunk deep. Others, it stayed level. Be it rocks or scrap metal, Opal logged it with the ship for the drones to take care of.
The UAV could wait. She couldn’t keep exposing a ground vehicle to water, now could she? Well, she could, but she wasn’t beyond what was needed. This little excursion was definitely needed. Yes. It was to map the surroundings and not the deep burrowing curiosity that’d been growing brighter in her coding since she awoke.
As she stepped onto the sandy beach, the spider drones that’d moved onto her turret began to mull downward. They scanned for any damage. There was none, which surprised the AI. She welcomed the luck and trudged forward, the IFV trudging forward at 25mphs. Opal was looking for a way into the forest without actually damaging it.