[Infantry Spider-Drone completed.] The system said as five robotic arms retracted back to their default positions. On the floor, a spider-drone booted up. But it wasn’t just a spider drone. No, it was an upgraded Spider-drone. The previous drones were simple, unarmored and only made to repair the ship in the absence of a mechanic army it’d require.
Now, her new creation was lightly armored. The metal plating was hard enough to withstand direct .45acp rounds. Though, because of anatomy, the points and the newly upgraded camera were its weakest points. Opal managed to plate up everything else and managed to optimize the drone so it was actually 15% faster and lighter – if you removed the armor. The optimizations managed to land it a slightly behind in speed to its predecessor when fully kitted.
Now, this was were Opal’s evil plan came into play. The optimizations weren’t just for show, it was to make a lot of room. It’s retractable back arms were gutted along with the small tool bays it had. Now it was outfitted with weapons. With the amount of Armalite patterned rifles in her inventory, all she had to do was retool a lower receiver to be compatible with a drone. This issue was easily solved by milling around the trigger guard and the lower receiver’s floor.
From there, Opal had just had to mill out new trigger groups. Without giving them any protective coatings, the whole process took two minutes for the entire weapon. Given that, it took ten minutes for an entire infantry drone to be milled, assembled and booted up. As the AMFFP had ten points of assembly and 20 CNC machines runnings, she managed to get 3 ISDs out after a few mishaps. One of them being a large drill bit flying through a CNC viewport.
Each ISD was the same, each outfitted with 5.56 rounds since those were the most plentiful. She also had .308, 7.62x39mm, 9mm, .45acp, and .50 BMG. There were other rounds, but none in a capacity she’d bother to waste her limited time converting over for the ISDs. She needed to shore up her numbers right now before she could worry about diversifying her shooters.
As to the specifications of the rifles attached to their back, they were the standard UA rifle. 16″ barrels with pinned flash hiders. Chrome lined with their barrel shrouds removed to cut down on weight, though, Opal’s aesthetic tastes cried at how strange without the shroud. There wasn’t anything there to hide the small pipe that funneled the gasses back into the chamber to cycle the round. That was also something she needed to replace, but that’d add a few minutes onto the build time.
Having designed the magazine change system was a hassle as well, so when it came time to switch to pistons, she’d also add the ability to use belts. On the subject of revamping, the ISD would change as well when Opal considered their entire makeup was to carry heavy loads. From that point of view, the AI saw just how much more she could shave off the ISDs; making them a completely new drone altogether.
The more the better. Having only three drones with weapon capabilities was nice and all, but Opal needed more. A drone could only be in one place at a time. Critically thinking, if she needed to be in two places at once, she’d be handicapped. One place would have one drone each with the UAV having to be split between the two. Considering the IFV was bulky and big, it was an easy target without support from the infantry it was supposed to help.
And the BD was a human-sized drone that had a lot more flexibility but lacked the firepower of the IFV. Paring the two would compensate for their drawbacks, but doing so would mean one objective was undefended, or not being pressured. The construction drones were too valuable to retool into a fighting force. So, Opal’s next option was to just make more.
A simple idea, hard implementation. That is if she wasn’t a super AI made with several different systems assisting her. After that, it was just a time game, but back to the important part.
Three ISDs, outfitted with modified ARs and armor, and upgraded cameras, sat lined up before Opal. Each unpainted as light gleamed off their smooth metal armor. Their systems booted and updated with Warfighter Protocols. They were fully armed as their ammo hatches were closed shut as several spider-drones loaded their magazines. That’d also taken a few minutes to code.
Each of the ISDs then cycled reloads after Opal handed them each two empty magazines. They repeated the function 50 times each to assure they were operating as hoped. They completed it 46 out of the 50 attempts. The failures were at the beginning and Opal adjusted them accordingly and it was smooth sailing from thereon.
[Convoy has stopped 15 miles away.] The UAV’s LLAI reported. With that, I left orders for the ISDs to move to the main bay and the AMFFP to turn out more.
The UAV’s feed showed Opal that indeed, the convoy had stopped its slow march. Tens of diamonds are scouring the area where Opal’s tracks diverged from the main road. All of the in gleaming plate armor. Even from high above, the camera could see it well. Opal looked at the power levels for the UAV – 76%. She’d changed it for four hours and sent it out so she wouldn’t get blindsided.
She didn’t like the feeling she was getting, and it bothered her endlessly. Something about these people was sending up red flags left and right. But there weren’t any notable points she could point to that’d allow her to give a reasonable explanation to it. She watched for a few more minutes before the group began to regroup with the vehicles a mile back.
She found it then.
They moved orderly and quickly, they all seemed to watch their own sectors as they retreated back towards their convoy. That was it, right there. Opal was looking at soldiers, real soldiers. From how they were moving, very well trained soldiers. Opal sounded the silent alarm that sent a ripple throughout the Ark. She just hoped she hadn’t taken the entire situation too lightly…
“Sir, the tracks lead off the road and through the river onto the north bank,” The knight reported as he saluted. “The tracks are visible from our side of the Sybel River.”
“Good,” Sir Sebastion said in a low growl. His large hulking figure was only seconded by his warhorse beneath him. “And the wagon?”
“It follows the road before it bends west, toward the mountain,” The knight answered. “I believe the road leads directly to Hikari Village, but we haven’t scouted the road.” The only response to that was loud snort as his commander’s body jolted in amusement.
“Sir… May I ask a question?” The knight asked.
“Yes,” Sir Sebastion decided to humor his underling after a few moments. “What is it?”
“How come we don’t know where this village is exactly?” The knight asked.
“Because of our Lord, Duke Von Honstein, deceased father had been sweet on a girl from the village,” The Sir Sebastion said. “Syfa, if I remember correctly. No one knows why, but he’d ordered that this valley remain off-limits, and the Hikari savages were to roam unmolested here.”
“Then why are we hunting them now?” The knight asked.
“Because our Lord wishes to settle this untapped land as well,” The commander shrugged. “And they had finally given him a good enough excuse to drop the sword on their necks. Satisfied?” The way Sir Sebastion had finished sent a chill down the knight’s spine. He saluted and shook his head.
“Good,” Sir Sebastion said. “Now, form up the ranks and we’ll deal with the Hikari first.” With that, the knight rallied his comrades and they took up the sides of the column. Each watched their sectors of the forest with critical eyes. Such was the way of their unit.
Sir Sebastion, however, was no looking forward, or around but up. High in the sky, he’d long noticed the small black dot that hovered high overhead. It hadn’t escaped his notice when they’d left Wilfred’s Holdfast. It’d flown off deep into the valley soon after, but the commander had noticed it’d returned. And it’d been following his scouts closely.
Sir Sebastion wondered what it was exactly. A Wyvern or a griffon would have already attacked; Simple-minded beasts were like that. It couldn’t have been a dragon, as it was too small. The valley itself hadn’t been explored much in the old lord’s days. It was a new land, untouched as the savage Hikari lived there and fought tooth and nail to keep people out.
That was when they were just the Wolf-kin, but now, they were apparently crossbred with another type of beast. That worried Sir Sebastion. He was walking into the unknown here, and he didn’t like it. He could handle killing off the native population easily, but it was that monster they spoke of in the report. It didn’t match any large beast in the bestiary. That worried him.
Matched with a vague map, it smelled of trouble. But with great risk comes great reward. He’d been promised good land here if he’d clean it up. Sir Sebastion pushed aside his doubts to focus on the mission – with great risks come great rewards.
The convoy continued on, passing the bend. Sir Sebastion and his officers were quick to notice the unnatural earth formation around the mountain top. It was as if something had taken a large bite out of the mountain. It was strangely… Good looking. He thought to get a piece of land around this mountain, maybe include a part of the lake.
Soon, they eventually left the forest and into the hillside. That was when more unnatural formations in the landscape appeared. Up ahead, a large bank of hills rose, with the road cutting through it. The bank itself was steep and lush with wild grass. It would halt any calvary in an instant with its steep incline.
The closer they are, the quieter everything went. Soon, only the rattling of their armor and the armored wagons filled the air as they began to pass through between the hills. Sir Sebastion’s eyes finally looked up as the dot disappeared. The sides of the road were held together with boulders larger than the commander himself, and somewhere larger than the wagons.
The village began to take shape, formed from the landscape itself with grass-covered roofs. It was surprisingly peaceful… And empty. Then, the hair on the back of his neck stiffened and he felt like he was being watched. Just as he looked up, following the direction he sensed it from, deep and menacing howls broke the silence. All around them, on the hills, the Hikari stood. Armed to the teeth as they began to rain arrows and spears down on them.