Dust danced across the left bank of the lake where the Spider Drones had been logging. Opal had already known what had happened, but the other party did not. The fishermen had nearly leaped into the water. The bowmen had notched their arrow, the swords were already pointed, and the one with the staff had a great ball of fire swirling over their head.
Still, Opal did not stir. The boats began to float listlessly to Opal’s left without their helmsman, and their operators were already ducking behind their short wooden walls. This had given Opal another interesting discovery. Tails. They had tails, long fluffy red bristled tails. Each swung frantically as they bared their weapons and teeth. They were just pushing the limits of what her IFV’s turret could reasonably make out.
She stepped back from her control of the IFV, returning to her core where she brought up the IFV and SDs on the edges of the bank. Doing such was a strain on her system. Each feed would – by her own protocols – be scanned by the nanosecond. Having two feeds side by side was enough to slow her response time by 0.1 seconds. Having five gave her an overall 1.5-second delay. For a human, that wasn’t much of a concern.
For an AI though, it was the difference between a turtle and a cheetah. Half the issue was the human-mandated requirements her system run ALL protocols against the feeds. She didn’t need all of them. She just needed one or two protocols, such as Defense and Diplomatic protocols. 2 out of several tens of protocols.
Opal had decided this would have to be remedied today, but the reboot would have to wait. Once she did so, she may be out of action for several days if the coding was extensive. The entire ship would be defenseless as she went into low-power mode. She would not lose her chance to observe these new creatures.
Almost two minutes went by before the other party had deemed the falling tree to be a non-threat. They hesitantly went back to their fishing, and Opal deemed it good enough to continue her work. She closed the feeds and placed herself back in the IFV. She felt the latency drop dramatically as she only had to focus on one machine. She cut her speed down in half to 13mphs, her steel legs dropping into the lake once more.
She kept the turret on them, already throwing the UGV into auto-pilot with a script. It would go about its work as did the Spider Drones. Opal, on the other hand, kept the turret fixed on the group on the opposite bank in her hairs. Half to watch, half to respond should they attack. They went on edge, or at least the psychological analyzer said they were when she crossed onto the bank.
The IFV hooked up to another log and dragged it back without incident into the belly of the Ark. The turret fixed on the creatures with religious zeal. Even when she was in the bay, she had a clear view of their bank. They went on fishing without incident after that.
Another thunderclap rang through the forest. They didn’t react this time and Opal resumed normal operations. The uptick in her speed seemed to have startled them. However, after a few more runs, they grew more comfortable around her. Even if they were on opposite ends of the lake.
After an hour, Opal had cleared a large clearing. She discontinued logging operations, then discontinued work on the UAV. The main bay was cramp with tens of logs now. There was only enough room for her to back in and out; the logs had long grown taller than her UGV. With all her drones, they went to work ripping out the stumps.
By now, the fishing boats had crossed half the lake. Now even the Spider Drones could see them crystal clear. While they were close, they kept to the deep part. And they had the bowmen and the one with a staff, which now she identified as a woman. Her chest bulged out several inches forward, the white fur covering it all down to her midriff. slightly tanned skin showed from there to just under her belly button.
Then her loincloth draped down between her legs. It was painted with rough symbols Opal couldn’t understand. It annoyed her that she didn’t understand and she wanted to scan it. She had several decoding processors and language learning programs. She was confident she could learn it. Alas, they never graced the robots. They kept a good two miles from their waterfront. They stopped fishing, opting to watch Opal and her minions work tirelessly.
Once the sun began to die, and the sky turned orange – streaked with long strokes of vanilla – did the last boat leave. The second boat had already left with the fish, taking most of the creatures with it. Only the bowman and the woman stay. By then, Opal’s drones had already stripped the trees of their bark. They were then stacked against the hall.
Not before they had to trim back some of the thickly hung roots that cascaded off the side of the ship. Plantlife had taken hold over all the outside hull. Not that Opal minded. Seeing the plant life seemed to stir a desire to protect it. It grew on her ship and thus made themselves her plants. Yes. That was logical she told herself.
Night fell over the lake, and Opal had made another discovery. Glowing flowers and mushrooms. Beached on the land, the front of the ship had become a mountain of itself in the forest. Near where the reaction should be, glowing floral had grown up against the wall. The IFV and SD-1 examined it. The IFV had lowered itself down, its thick pillar legs holding the camera three feet off the ground. That was the lowest it could go.
Had the drones not been digging out the final stumps once night came, she would’ve never seen this. It was far out of her line of sight from the bay. With no outer sensors upon the ship, she had to rely on the weak onboard sensors of the drones and their onboard cameras. She was beginning to wonder what else she was missing without her all-powerful sensors.
Ah, yes. Unlisted inventory. That too, but that didn’t matter. Firearms, body armor, ICBMs, and MBTs weren’t interesting. Just more entries to put on her inventory. Now this, the glowing floral in the small crevice between the earth and the ship – was interesting.
The flowers glowed with a brilliancy of a green fluorescent light. The plant itself was nearly a foot tall. Its stem no thicker than a #2 pencil. The Spider drone dug slowly, per Opal’s orders, to get to it. She wanted it one piece. If it found the roots, it would dig around them. As day 4 was rolling in, Opal smiled inwardly – in some fashion – that day 3 was the best day of her life so far.
Two new interesting discoveries would go on her log. She had taken 1 hour of 10-minute videos and nearly a gig in pictures. The floral had only pictures though. It wasn’t as interesting as the fox-human hybrids. It was just a glowing plant. but this was now her glowing plant. And she would take it!
After 13 minutes, SD-1 had finally carved out a ten-foot by five-foot trench. With 45 glowing single plants and 3 glowing mushrooms; it was needed. Opal sent out a call for several more workings and to have them exchange their metalworking attachments for gardening ones. Opal loved her lego-like drones.
An hour later, Opal was leading a procession of glowing Spider Drones that cradled her new treasures.
— ¦ —
Dawn came with thick grey clouds that scrapped the top of Ark Omega. Opal’s IFV stood gallantly on her new platform. throughout the night, the Spider drones had assembled a large half-quarter mile platform. It connected the bay to the clearing off to its left. Using half of their pole inventory, they had created the legs of the platform; raising it two feet from the water’s surface. Five feet lower than the bay’s entrance.
The Spider Drones lack adaptability. The more glaring drawback of dumb-AIs, but Opal found she could. She modeled the platform after she dug through the construction blueprints. She copied the pier blueprint, altered it to accept a metal platform as best she could and called it a day. Now, as the sun rolled it. She hated it.
The discolored repurposed scrap panels were repulsive. Even by her standards.
Her disdain for the mad-maxed themed pier and she had half the program to just blow it up with the 20mm. But she didn’t. As she glowered at it, half the drones were felling trees while the other half were cutting thick planks. Theoretically, they would hold twice an MBT’s weight over a 20ft section. However, as she learned right now, her theoretical projections probably wouldn’t reflect reality.
So, she had upped the size of the planks and now they were just squaring off entire trees into equal 3ftx3ft planks. While that meant they had to cut down the biggest trees they could find, it also gave her options as the scraps of woods were fashioned into smaller pieces she’d set aside.
As the saws filled the air, the fox-human boats appeared on the lake again. However, with slightly more on-edge ones. Opal’s turret tracked them, noting that most of them were different people. The bow-men and the staff-wielding woman appeared. There were also four boats on the water now. Only two fished though, but the other two came within a mile of the Ark this time.
They watched with interest as her drones worked and began to dismantle the pier. They did so in 20ft sections. One drone had been set aside to press out steel nails. Since nails were small items and easily made, it only had to reoutfit itself with a mini-foundry kit. It stayed onshore by the water where it tempered the nails once pressed.
The creatures watching them work watched with intense gazes. Their narrowed eyes tracking everything as it happened. This went on for two hours as the drones wordlessly installed her lovely new pier.
In the end, she had a lovely new pier that, while unprotected to the elements, brought a hidden smile to her. she brought the IFV back and four times at full speed to test it. It held against it all, and thus. Opal brought out her newly potted plants. Half the harvested glowing roses were in dull gray planters. Fashioned with scrap metal and placed in an equal distance of each other on the waterside.
They didn’t glow in the sun. Each nothing more than a thin bush of dull green. Opal moved to examine it, mainly to check for any spacing flaws, when she noted a commotion on the water. Small waves rippled as her turret’s camera watched the staff-wielding fox argue with her helmsman. She kept pointing vigorously in the IFV’s direction. Her partner kept shaking his head.
Opal watched with interest as they bickered until the woman just picked him up, and tossed him overboard. She took over the paddles and began to row towards Opal with purpose. Very. Intense. Purpose.