Flowered Metal | 12

Sixteen skeletons were thrown into an empty metal crate and left by the Main Bay’s entrance as Opal surveyed the damage. From the damage, Opal deduced it was a firefight. So wasn’t concerned as to why they’d been fighting, only that they’d ripped a hole into the floor and into two other rooms. Fortunately for the dead, Opal wasn’t around when they had done their little idiot western fight, or she would have sent them packing into the great beyond. 

But she wasn’t, and the damage was extensive. The hole itself was nearly 5ft by 6ft, and including all the bullet holes, none of the technology was salvageable. Terminals, servers and even the damn outlets had been desecrated in the fight. Opal couldn’t even salvage the SSDs, nor the Holo-Matrix crystals. It was either shot, burnt, blown up, or shorted out. 

The destruction of the HMCs was the worst of the losses. Being a relatively new technology, and fresh out on the market, they were in the thousands just for a 1 by 1ft holographic projection screen. Opal highly doubted there’s be schematics laying around to produce them as well. Despite her lack of disinterest in the root cause of whatever happened, the lack of any recordings or logs made it impossible to know anyways.

The nodes were the collective housing of ALL the information in that sector; even workers’ files and correspondence. So trying to scrap anything off any terminals or datapads would be pointless if they didn’t keep offline copies. But it wouldn’t hurt to check them if they worked. 

Alas, Opal and the drones scrapped the entire room. They only made sure to salvage any unharmed electrical wires – that wasn’t a lot after all was said and done. By the time they were done, the rain had finally let up, leaving a cloud spotted twilight sky. Pink evening light illuminated the bay. Much of the large chamber was filled with metal, factory parts, and a rather large IFV that stood over the entrance like an ancient war god. 

Opal updated her inventory manifest once all the drones had accounted for what had been removed. That being done, she turned her attention to the team of drones that were building a 70ft half-circle corridor. Actual walking space was 60ft across heavily reinforced floor panels like the Main Bay. However, five feet on either side was thin paneling that could hold the Spider-Drones or Opal’s drone. The wiring and piping ran beneath that.

To prevent the accidents with the drones, thick five feet arches ringed the tunnel every 15ft. And as she promised, she built in more hexagon bays for her babies. Since there was an influx of short cables, each bay got its own charging stations built-in. Just because she could, they even got a single LED bay light inside. It differently wasn’t because she had more LED lights than she needed. Maybe if there was enough scrape, she’d make them little bay doors.

Opal watched as the drones excitedly added the finishing touches to their own bays. Some even cut their numbers over—

Opal didn’t remember giving them numbers. She examined the closest spider-drone critically with her camera. The black-tinted glass swirled as the camera focused. The Spider-Drone in question had cut a very neat, if blocky, 36 over its bay. 35 was the one to its left and 37 was to its right.

“What are you doing?” Opal asked over the speaker. She could have just sent it a digital hail, but she was curious about something… 

[SD-36 is marking its bay.]

“Why?” Opal asked.

[So SD-37 stops trying to steal this unit’s tools.]

 

—¦—

 

When morning came, Opal found herself stuck in a rut. In her overzealous attempt to finish the factory, she hadn’t accounted for any breaches in the hull itself. 

As they were cutting through the last two empty rooms, the machines had been stonewalled by a very large boulder. So much so, Opal didn’t think it could be called a boulder and just called it a baby mountain. Yes, baby mountains were just as stubborn as their parents. It wouldn’t have been a problem if the baby mountain had just stayed with its parents. However, this baby mountain had implanted itself through the Ark’s hull.

It was also jutting 17ft past where the floor was supposed to go. Opal reflected on not surveying her planned locations and was also deciding how to take the baby mountain out of her way. Blowing it up would be quick. However, that would damage the Ark. Chiseling would take a day to do, and cutting it away would be a waste of time and resources. Not if she had a water-jet though. That was definitely something to look into. 

[IFV-1 to Mother – Civilian Syfa and Haiafe are approaching the haul.]

Opal gave one last glance at the boulder then ordered the drones to recharge. All of them were at the limits of their charges. After five days of continuous work, Opal had to say the UA did get their money’s worth there. 

By the time Syfa arrived, along with her brother, at the bay’s entrance, Opal had transferred herself to the IFV in time to see the large komodo dragon like-beast that awaited at the foot of the pier. A large roughly made wagon full of cargo had been tethered to the beast, and that piqued Opal’s 

“Good morning, Opal,” Syfa greeted the IFV, then noticed just how cluttered the bay had become since the last time she’d been there.

“Good morning, Syfa,” Opal’s voice came over the machine’s loudspeaker as the nose-cam focused on the shaman. “Are you hear for another trade?” 

“No, maybe later,” Syfa shook her head. “Actually, I was planning to go to town and I wanted to know if you wanted to go.”

“Did you require my assistance?” Opal asked, genuinely curious if Syfa did need it. Regardless of the answer, the AI was interested in seeing a settlement. To which, Opal now thought about visiting the Hakiri Village. 

“No, no!” Syfa denied it vigorously. “I just thought that you’d like to go see it. We have a few other smaller villages nearby, but all of them have us deal with the human town. I just thought you’d like to go, maybe…” 

“It is fine.” Opal said. “I wish to see the settlement. How far is it?” 

“About 50 miles south,” Syfa turned and pointed out the bay and towards the left. “It’s actually a small fortified town than a settlement.” 

“My current range is 13 miles,” Opal said. “But if you give me some time, I can create a mobile command post to extend my range.” 

“A what?” Syfa asked

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