Damn, here I am, trying to make a shopping list for a job where I am not 100% of the plan. Hell, I’m not even 70% sure we have a plan on this one, other than ‘vengeance must be had’. I need to start with the basics. Opening an internal Notepad on the head computer, I start jotting figures. Electronic Lockpicks: $1,500, 0.2 lbs.; Biometric Cracker Tools: $4,000, 10 lbs; Razortape: $40, 0.5 lb. per 100-foot spool; A Pocket Pack for each of us: $25, 0.75 lbs each (How many of on the ground this time? 3 Lazarus and Tilly?) a CrashKit: $200, 10 lbs; Any kind of Guns, Ammo, and explosives we can get; Possibly a special smuggling in of some Aquino Automation bots: preferably a few Kestrel and a Marmalade if possible. Can the smugglers pull that off on short notice? What kind of skills does Tilly have? She doesn’t have any cyber, so there is no way she is coming close to covering Pit’s role as the Heavy. I supposed to be coming up with answers, but all I keep getting is more questions, it’s frustrating!
Dealing with frustration the best way I know how, I headed to the ships workshop to see what kind of facilities I could play with. I was impressed – the Blue Shimmer has quite a the collection of spare parts, all organized in case of an emergency swap-out situation. The Machinist Mates station was small and crammped, but is was a quality fabrication workshop set up with professional efficiency.
The crew was happy to give me a tour, even happier when they found I could take a tour in Tagalog. I absentmindedly grabbed a few stray parts from various stations as we passed, pocketing some, inattentively fidgeting with others. While the Machinist Mates station was what I was most interested in, it seems the engine room was the preferred place for the crew to congregate in a situation like this. It was hot, crammped, damp, and smelled like a combination of hot oil and shrimp paste, but I could strangely see the appeal – it had a sense of being impenetrable, no-one that wasn’t supposed to be here would find their way down here.
It must have been close to an hour of listening to the sailors telling me stories between swapping out to fulfill their duties while I fidgeted that it happened, one of the sailors stopped mid-sentence and asked “Hey, would that actually fly?” I must have looked surprised and confused until he quickly used his lips to point out the pile of parts laid out in front of me, using a pipe as a desk, complete with notes jotted down in grease pencil. I briefly glanced at the pencil in my hand before checking the array of parts and the scrawl of notes – the rough basics for a crude microbot out of the parts I was tinkering with, it was basically a junk bot, and I admitted it. “What could you come up with if you actually tried?” was a question that turned into a challenge. The crew scrambled to gather various junk and lay it out in categories as they set me up in the Chief Engineers office – I was a little worried that he might find the mess an intrusion, until it was pointed out that the “CHENG” was making it into a game among his boys: they were in 3 teams, bringing parts and tools and shouted ideas, it was chaos, but it seemed to bring everyone together as well as free the weight off of my mind.
With a piping-hot mug of black mud-like coffee, I looked at the three groups of piles organized on the desk before me: the first was labeled ‘Skeeto’, it was a cheap, ugly bot that could have been the Pinbot’s scrapyard cousin, it’s batteries were 90% of the weight, – balanced like landing gear under the “brains”, but it had a 3 gauge hypodermic needle mounted on it like a lance – it we could get some sort of drug or poison onto it, the thing just might be useful – maybe we should enlist Wahlen on that. Up next was another Scrapbot, this one labeled ‘Imp’, it was a shoddy little flier rigged up with a tiny charge that turn it into a small burst of shrapnel as is temporarily disrupted any electronics in a very small area – obviously this one was untested, but the math was all sound. The third bot was the one that was the most durable, a small, hinged cage of flexible framing ringed with cheap sensors and pistons – the darn thing opened up to so a grenade could be nested inside, turning a grenade into a temporary sentry device able to ‘re-throw’ itself a short distance. The first two bots could handle the Pinbot program with very little change, the last could make use of areani AI with a few tweaks.
Between the Machinist Mate and myself, we cranked out 3 bots of each bot by breakfast. The whole thing was productive: I came out with nine bots, I my mind was clear, and wile making the bots, I got ideas on how each could be used – the beginnings of a plan. Able’s footage of Rossum snatching up Professor Barton might be interesting to Umbra even without editing; all three new bots had their use in an assault or infiltration job, though they wouldn’t replace Pit or Worm for those roles; and the Matapang’s assured me that they could get some gear to us, even on short notice. The Matapang family was not blessed in the genetics department, but they were sure useful!