The Ahk designated as FT-0101 was an Espatier. It’s Ka was the pruned fork of Sergeant 5Djeffries Muh. It’s Ba was a mechanical monster.
The interior of the vast O’Neill cylinder that was now part of 3Gleise’s territory was patrolled by Cerberus fighters modified for use as squad transports. Eight hulking brutes, clipped to the exterior of each war rocket, were launched from the destroyers escorting the space station to secure the inside. It had taken days to go through the vast habitat, comparment by compartment, capturing and removing the thousands of workers found within. Most were Gleise citizens, now repatriated. The remainder, AdStar overseers, were captured and sent for interrogation.
FT-0101 lead the first squad of the first platoon of DesCon 3’s Expiditionary Force. It had been online for eight-seven hours now, leading its squad in what was essentially a massive boarding action. It was the certainly the right Ahk or the job. FT-0101 had faught on planets, with and without atmosphere, asteroids, moons, and habitats of all sizes. It had faught on starships ranging from corvettes to to titanic battlers. It was the best of the best.
It had never seen anything like this before.
“UNKNOWN TERRAIN. DATA UPLINK ACTIVE.”
“Roger that, FT-0101. Get video on all frequencies.”
The Espatier Ahk began recording what it saw, in thermal, visible, ultraviolet and x-ray. The O’Neill was small, as these things go; only eight kilometers long with a radius of a thousand meters. Despite this, the interior cavity should have been at least five hundred meters wide. Espatiers on the ground recorded an internal space only two hundred meters wide, divided into compartments every half kilometer.
“This is downright claustrophobic.”
“ROGER THAT. OBSERVE.”
FT-0101 focused on an area of the interior skin that hadn’t been completed. A vast cenote in the artificial ground gaped open, exposing layers upon layers of water bags and aerogel bricks under the surface. Through the middle of the hole was a what looked like a tall ridge made of carbon that was spun in long ropes of self-supporting latticework.
“It looks almost like buttressing.”
FT-0101 continued moving forward. There was no soil on the decking - just layers of woven carbon fiber plates. Here and there were other Espatiers examining the odd modifiactions to the habitat. The central hub, for example, was ribbed by additional buttressing that curved outward toward the compartmenting wall dividing the entire open space of the cylinder a few hundred meters ahead. The curving buttresses from the column gradually arched over the dividing wall to meet the even larger and wider ridges in the rimward walls.
“STURCTURAL DESIGN UNUSUAL.”
“That’s one way of putting it. Looks familiar, though. Keep panning around, please.”
FT-0101 anchored its bulk to the deck and began rotating its main cameras around a hundred and eighty degrees, missing nothing. There were veins of raised tubing standing out upon the partition like spiderwebs of renforcement. The curving arches made a graceful symmetry.
“Wait a moment! Right there!”
FT-0101 froze, as only a robotic Ba could.
“Oh, oh Netjer. I know what this is!”
“Those dividing walls, they’re rib vaults.”
“They’re oriented to support the cylinder’s mass along the long axis. Against accelleration.”
“The outer walls are filled with enough insulation to absorb a full laser barrage.”
“UNDERSTOOD.” This was the closest FT-0101 ever got to an exclamation. “THIS IS NOT A HABITAT CYLINDER.”
“Not anymore. Its a capital ship.”