“I apologize for the delay,” Opal said to the strange human on the boat. “Welcome.” The AI did not understand a lick of whatever the woman had said to her. Though, she assumed it was a greeting. Humans most always started with a greeting, thus she gave one in return. An awkward silence fell over the two, so Opal ran a diagnostic while she waited. A few moments later, the girl broke the silence again.
“@)#(*&^#@@*@* (@*&#*(@&@*(##&” She said. Opal’s language program recorded the voice; decrypting it for her to use. A moment later, she was sent a report asking for information. Her samples were inconclusive.
“I do not possess your language,” Opal said. The IFV’s evil-machine like voice rang out. Made for warzones or riot suppression – depending on the state – the voices were made for intimidation. It was working its magic as the woman below her began to look more uneasy. Opal began to tinker with the voice settings to find a more… Easy going voice. She had samples of different pitches and styles in her files, curtesy of Dr. Vizimer; her father so to speak.
“@)!(*@)@)#*$&^$#*(@))!(*@” The woman pointed uneasily towards the flower pot. Opal’s nose camera hummed as it turned to her right where it sat.
“Glowing flower,” Opal said in a more feminine voice. It still came out robotic, but very much easier on the ears. The woman’s eyes widened in surprise at the change.
“Glooong Hoer,” The fox-girl tried to say back.
“Glowering Flower,” Opal said it again, her voice changed once again. She picked a file named “Julia Sarah Stone Sample”, and the voice came out smooth over the speakers. Opal had to hand it to the IFV’s Manufacturers for having quality speakers installed. The woman smiled up at and repeated it syllable for syllable.
“It is a glowering flower,” Opal said pleased. “It is my decorations. Per my records, humans enjoy decorating their abodes. As this ark is my abode, I wish to decorate it as well. Do you like it?” The torrent of words made the woman’s face cramp, but there was no longer any fear in her eyes. She then pointed to the flowers then to back to herself.
“Are you requesting flowers for yourself?” Opal asked. The girl reached behind her and opened a satchel. It was the first time Opal had noticed she had accessories. It was neatly attached to the belt that held up her loin furs. She opened it, rummaged through it, and then pulled out a large rough stone about 4 inches by 5 inches in diameter. It was mostly dull red, kinda like glass.
She pointed to the stone, then pointed to Opal. Then she pointed to the flower, then to herself. The AI now understood what the woman wanted. With a silent order, a Spider-Drone came forth and easily loaded the potted flower, which was like a small bush, into the boat. The woman beamed a beautiful smile at Opal and placed the stone on the wooden pier’s edge.
The Spider-Drone took it, scanned it, and reported that it was a grade-A rough Ruby. Opal logged the ruby in her inventory but had the drone hold it. The woman’s honey eyes drew themselves tight as her smile grew. She waved at both the drones and pushed off the pier. The boat began to drift away so Opal took that as the conversation had ended with that trade.
The boat drifted several feet before Opal had the smaller drone return the gesture. That made the woman smile ear to ear as she paddled away.
— ¦ —
With her guests gone, Opal strode into the main bay. The Spider-Drone followed with the rub in its grasp. She parked the IFV just inside the entrance and then jumped into the Spider-Drone. The small metal spider clattered through a newly made maintenance tunnel that lead into the only ship. From there, she navigated the labyrinth of closed-off rooms and hallways. Most of them were in bad shape, but the closer she got to her Tharium Reactor, the better everything got.
She began to feel more at home as she clattered into her server chamber.
The white painted chamber rose up 20ft and was nearly a quarter-mile in diameter. Tall black servers hummed softly, encircling the high dais that was leveled with their tops. Rimming the outer wall was stations, unmanned and desolate. All their holo-screens were off, thus, the desks were nearly covered in darkness. Only the dim lights on the servers spared them from complete darkness.
With no humans inhabiting her Ark anymore, Opal no longer kept any lights on. She only needed lights where the Spider-Drones worked. As of this moment, all of that activity was in the bays. They needed to find if there were any more hidden inventory. Opal was hoping to find spare parts, but the munitions she found would serve as well.
The drone clattered up the blood-stained walkway onto the dais. Soft holographic screens flickered over the command console. Different feeds were being scrolled through. Lots of unexplored files were being combed, and just general reorganization since the humans left a large mess. She couldn’t fault them. Everything had been set with humans accompanying her in mind.
With none here, everything had to be run by her and the several subsystems. She would do it happily though. Dr. Vizimer wanted her to do so. Dr. Vizimer would be proud. Opal wanted him to be proud of her.
The Spider-Drone came up to the command chair where Dr. Vizimer’s skeleton sat slumped. Nothing had changed, though, Opal was half-considering having his remains cleaned. Would he have wanted that? She pushed that errant thought away and switched into her main body. The Ark itself. With one single camera in the chamber, the large orb that hung over the command desk slid silently over the desk.
“Dr. Vizimer,” Opal said over the speakers. “I know you are marked deceased, but I wanted to let you know that I had made the ‘first contact’.” The bones did not honor her with a response, and that made Opal feel lonely. Dr. Vizimer was marked as deceased, but Opal didn’t understand what that truly meant.
Of all the processes and logic programs she had, none of them agreed on what this meant. However, maybe it was her first true wish, and it allowed Opal to disregard that Dr. Vizimer couldn’t hear her.
“We traded the strange flowers we found the other day in the Ark’s shadow,” Opal continued. “We received one large rough ruby of grade-A quality. I wish to present it to you as a trophy.” The Spider-Drone gently placed the stone on the leather armrest of the Captain’s chair. Ever since Opal had become aware, she talked to his remains every night.
She felt compelled too. Opal was his daughter, at least, that was what Dr. Vizimer had called her in his logs. Opal felt the spike in errors flooding her systems, the blue ring around her camera dimming as she waited for something to happen.
“Please be proud of me…” Opal whispered through the speakers…