Flowered Metal | 9

Opal stood on the cusp of the bay’s entrance, overlooking the lake as heavy rains pelted it. While not actually harmful, the sheer magnitude of the noise of millions of rain droplets annoyed her to no end. Of which, pushed her to cut the feeds to any microphones. The world had a melancholy gray tint to it today, evidence that dawn had come. As if it were a battle of the gods, thunder shook the world as lightning struck somewhere close.

Probably the Ark itself. The AI had no inclination to check though. Because of the rise in humidity – of which she couldn’t tell, but knew via data that it would during rain – all drones had been ordered to shelter in the Ark.

The world fell strange, watching it in silence. It held a strange beauty that captivated the AI, though, she didn’t understand why. Since the early hours of the new day, she’d stood there when it first began to rain. It was the first time she had ever seen rain. Being an AI that was supposed to be a helper of the remnants of humanity, of course, she knew of it.

She knew of the Hydrologic Cycle. Where surface water is evaporated by the sun, mostly from the ocean. From there, the water vapor rises into the sky where it could cling to tiny little particulars called condensation nuclei, which come from a variety of sources. This all came together to form clouds. Bunch trillions of these fine things together, and you create clouds.

From there, since wind exists, these clouds float on the wind currents. Once the water in the clouds become heavy enough, they fall from their little clouds. At high altitudes or cold climates, this creates snow. But right now, they were just falling as water droplets. Heavy droplets at that. From there, water would flow into basins, lakes, rivers, or end up in underwater aquifers. Eventually, they would all end back up in the sky.

Opal could tell that it was exactly 60° Feriheight right now. She could tell that if the rain did not cease within five hours, the lake would rise three feet. However, knowing all this, she lacked one thing she really wanted to know.

What did rain feel like?

Dr. Vizimer used to muse how he loved the rain, and she wanted to know if she’d love it too. She’d been contemplating this as the drones had sealed the previous bay entrance. Now, they were – inadequately – trying to push the water out of the bay around her. They were using brooms, but Opal wasn’t about to correct them. She was busy with her own musing. It was fun, if not… Depressing?

She believed that would be the right word. That would also depend if it were emotions that were triggering all these error reports in her programming, or, maybe she was just some prototype AI that should’ve been destroyed when her creator – father – died. She had the authorization to rebuild her programing. Opal just wasn’t sure if she wanted to touch that.

But for all her contemplations, a new variable appeared. Actually, a lot of them appeared. A gaggle of figures hugged the left tree line. 20 Yellow diamonds appeared over them per contact protocols. Opal, on the other hand, ignored them. She didn’t want to deal with anyone right now. Against her unexpressed wishes, the group found themselves on her pier an hour later.

All of them were garbed in thick hide hoods that kept them relatively dry. Once in the cover of the twisted underbelly of Omega Ark, they pulled their hoods down. Immediately, one diamond-turned green. Opal’s attention was now caught as the program recognized the fox woman from yesterday. Her large auburn fox ears and hair were loose today. She combed her hair forward where it rested over her left fur-covered breast.

Along with that, the others did as well. Most of them held the same hair color and ears. However, they were males and each stood higher than 5ft’ 6in’. That was the height the girl stood at. The shortest male came down to 5ft’ 8in’ and the tallest stood at over 6ft’ 6in’. He was the bowman from yesterday, but he carried a sheathed longsword this time.

The men were in edge while the woman strode confidently with a big smile. Unlike yesterday though, she had another leather satchel with her. Opal waited with mixed interest in whatever would happen and allowed them all to come up to her bay’s entrance. They stopped on the cusp of the bay, and only the woman stepped inward. All of them watched as the spider drones worded to ride the bay of metal’s greatest enemy – water.

The large man watched with apparent fear, but the woman with great interest. Opal let them do as they wished for several minutes until the woman turned to Opal. She gave her a deep standing bow before she began to talk. To which Opal metaphorically rolled her eyes at her. The woman’s expression cramped, and Opal realized she actually did it via her turret camera. Oops.

She turned on her microphones unwillingly.

“@(U($@?” The woman’s head tilted, confused.

“Excuse the slip in my behavior,” Opal said in her sweet voice. “It was a glitch in my programming.” Which wasn’t the truth, but wasn’t a lie. The woman’s face twitched, neither understanding what the other said.

One of the men stepped into the bay, prompting Opal’s turret to swivel towards him. The move sent the entire group on edge, though, Opal had half a 01 to just kick them out if they got annoying. The man froze for a moment, then moved beside the woman. He gave Opal a smaller bow, an interact carved bone crown over his head.

“(@@()*#(@*)@(#*@@)*$(@(#*)(@,” The man said as he lifted his hands up. Opal only understood he was greeting her via his gesture, or maybe he was declaring her an enemy? With three different programs analyzing this conversation, Opal found it was hard to make an accurate guess. That was even more annoying. So, she shut everything but the Language Decoding Matrix.

A few awkward minutes passed by before the man’s face twitched. “*(#*@(&^*@#*($)#?”

“I do not understand your language, but if you continue to talk, I can learn it,” Opal said. The man’s face twitched again. The woman seemed to have lost interest in whatever pleasantries he was doing when she pointed to herself.

“Syfa,” The woman said. She patted her blessed breasts twice. “Syfa.”

“You are Syfa?” Opal asked, assuming she was introducing herself.

“Syfa,” Syfa’s amber eyes tightened as she beamed. “@(@ Zoca.” Syfa patted the man’s chest before repeating the name once more.

“He is Zoca,” Opal said. The fox woman nodded and her face blossomed with joy. Opal watched as she turned and pulled the largest man into the bay. His face growing pale, and she noticed he was trembling slightly. She patted his chest hard enough for even Opal to hear over the rain.

“Haiafe,” Syfa said. “This (* Haiafe, *(#*@@(.”

“This Haiafe,” Opal said in Syfa’s language. That made everyone gape but Syfa gape in surprise. Syfa only glowed in amusement at Opal’s quick learning. Zoca looked to Syfa then to Haiafe. Opal gave them their moment as the LDM was recording the group behind them to help supplement.

“The #($*( learns (**)!” Zoca said, but Haiafe just stayed stiff where Syfa had left him.

“Isn’t it amazing?” Syfa beamed. The LCD was projecting an 60% probability of holding a normal conversation. “I’m )(@*#( the being is )@(# @(*#.”

“I see.” Zoca nodded. “We may be able to come to an agreement then. Syfa, )(@*&*@ the bag.” Zoca gestured to Syfa, who in turn, unstrapped the bag from her belt and handed it over to Zoca.

“I present a gift!” Zoca declared as he lifted the bag. “We wish to (@**#* good relations with you, (#** being!” He then put the bag down on the only dry spot in the bay. By Opal. He pulled out a large bone-white cylinder, a carved bone hairbrush, a shiny dagger with a bone held, and a large gold ingot.

A scan told her that the cylinder was a candle. The hairbrush was unneeded, and the dagger was iffy. The ingot though, she could use that to help repair circuits. It was below 99% but it was higher than 96%. It would serve her purposes. The man looked at Opal expectantly.

“What is it that you need from me?” Opal asked bluntly switching to their language, not understanding whatever he was trying to do. His face cramped as she pronounced the words flawlessly. The group behind them chattered up a storm, and it was like an all you could eat buffet for her LDM. Even now, they were trying to guess what would happen. Gossip was good for the soul.

“I wish to establish a good relationship with you, O’ Great Being,” Zoca said. “My daughter here has told me of the trade you two made. It was a great boon for us. I felt the trade was not exactly fair, so I do not request anything from you in this. I wish for the Hikari Tribe to be friends with you.”

“Your request has been accepted,” Opal said. “Was there anything else?” Asked as if she were accepting orders. Though, it was the only response she actually cared to give.

“Err… No…” Zoca said before Syfa smacked his chest with a glare.

“Great Being, I–” Syfa was cut off as Opal interjected.

“I am not a Great being, I am Opal,” Opal stated. “Superior Artificial Intelligence, tasked with authority over Omega Ark and all its functions.” The people below seemed to have understood the beginning half of her sentence, but not the ending.

“Your name is Opal?” Syfa asked with a smile.

“Yes,” Opal said.

“Then Opal,” Syfa began. “Would you care to trade more Night Greens for more rubies? If not, I have other things I could trade.”

“Please display all options before I choose.” Opal said. As such, Syfa knelt over and pulled out several rough rubies. Alongside it came several other items. A rough amber stone, a round purple marble with a small dim light that swirled in it. A black stone Opal knew was obsidian and then an ingot of steel. The scanner pinged the amber stone as what its name implied, Amber. However, the marble stone was strange and had no matches in her database.

“I bring amber, a medium-grade mana stone, fire-glass, and a steel ingot from the southern lands. ” Syfa explained.

 

 

 

 

 

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