There are times when I see my origins as a weakness, even if they show me that because of them, I am still human and not a machine.
Michael had been shot again, and that pissed me off. Being pissed off was not the problem, the fear and panic I experienced were. To tell the truth, I was distracted, which tends to happen when you are doing several hundred things at once. It culminated when Michael went to see Dave alone, without any backup (or the damn satellite surveillance I was supposed to provide). Naturally, he acquired two bullet holes.
So yes, I experienced an overwhelming sense of panic. For a second, I was frozen in shock caused by the sheer abruptness of it, and a second for me is a really long time.
By the time I started acting, he was already shot twice, and I was having trouble connecting with his CEI. It is a robust piece of technology, but that bullet that hit Michael’s head did a number on it. For your information, hi-tech does not like being banged around. I immediately alerted the team, and they rushed to the scene, using a transporter.
Dave had also been shot twice and was copiously bleeding. If Michael hadn’t applied pressure to his wounds, the limited numbers of nanites in his body wouldn't be able to save him. Even then, it was touch and go for a while.
When I finally had Michael inside the ship, the scans showed some brain trauma, so no wonder his CEI was acting up. Nevertheless, all that was easily fixed; it was as if he were hit in the head a few dozen times by a heavyweight world boxing champion. The CEI lost its connection and went to safe mode, which means it was focused on operating the nanites and ensuring the safety of its user.
While all that was happening, the perpetrator of this assassination attempt managed to escape. That is why I said my human origins can be a weakness; there was time for me to follow him using the satellites. It would have just taken a few moments to issue a command to the MI. However, I didn’t do that…I was too concentrated on Michael and Dave. Sometimes, emotions can be a hindrance.
The fact that someone found him was disturbing on every possible level. I thought that we had covered every potential track that could have led them to Michael, but I guess I was wrong. That is why some contingency plans had to be implemented, even before they were fully finished, and far from optimal.
The missile silo safe house was an idea I got when Michael told me that we needed a secondary location, in case something unexpected happened. It was one of several purchases I made for that purpose, but the silo project was closest to completion so that's the reason why everybody expediently moved there. The other places were still at the beginning stages of construction and were strategically less desirable.
The origin of that idea goes back a few years when I saw a documentary about a group of survivalists that managed to convert a missile silo into a five-star doomsday shelter. While I didn't think the world was going to end soon, even if there was a possibility, the idea itself struck me as ideal for what we needed.
I even managed to buy the property for cheap; it was in the middle of the desert after all, so the land itself was not good for anything. The man that sold it to me was facing bankruptcy and I was the only interested party (just the kind of deal I like). He had the same idea in theory, but not enough funds to finish it. Plus, there were a lot of supplies he’d collected over the years that were part of the purchase (I looked on it as a cherry on the top).
This was one of my favorite construction projects. The idea of repurposing a missile silo into a secret base was so enticing. Besides, this thing was built to last, and survive a nuclear blast… expenses be damned. There was no shoddy construction or caring about going over the budget, not for a Cold-War era structure of such strategic importance. The silo was officially classified as Titan II Missile System Silo Complex. Built out of four feet thick and heavily reinforced concrete, that was 147 feet deep, and 55 feet in diameter. The top was covered with a steel and concrete door that weighed 740 tons, and which I had every intention of using as a garage door for the top floor. There was enough space for five transporters to park side by side on that level. To be exact, each floor of the silo had 2,375 square feet of space, and with a height of almost 150 feet, I could make a lot of floors.
If I had to do the entire project using conventional techniques, it would have cost millions, and god knows how many hours in labor. In contrast, using construction nanites was very cost-effective. As a side benefit, the previous owner, besides throwing all of his construction materials into the deal, didn’t scrap any of the old installations the Air Force left behind when they decommissioned the site and ripped out all of the top-secret components. Therefore, I had tons of metal to work with, to an extent that there was no need to ship additional material at all, everything could be refurbished and re-purposed on-site.
To begin, I had Dave's nano-factory build enough construction nanites to fill an entire transporter. There was barely enough room to put a portable fusion reactor and a machine intelligence core that will function as my official foreman for the entire project. Then the whole thing was sent to the site and dumped over the silo chamber.
I made elaborate plans that involved original facility elements, changed to serve a different function. For example, two missile exhaust ducts that ran up the length of the silo and vented to the surface were repurposed for air conditioning. And a flame deflector at the base was to be converted into an underground heated swimming pool with a sauna attached. The water well that was on the premises was extended until it could satisfy all foreseeable needs. With that fusion reactor as a power source, I could run the entire operation without any setbacks.
On the surface nothing changed, it still looked like a place where you would not want to spend one minute, let alone live there. Underground, the place was experiencing a Renaissance. With one hundred and fifty feet of height, I had enough room to build an entire underground building. Some levels were dedicated for specific purposes: gym and spa, the AutoDoc level, and residential areas.
The silo was connected to the missile control center by a two hundred and fifty-foot-long access tunnel. And the control center was a dome-shaped reinforced concrete structure thirty-seven feet in diameter, containing three levels. I excavated an additional room to the control center as an operations room for the team. The missile control center was the place where I built an intelligence-gathering facility and a computer center.
It was an entire level filled with stacks of servers. My first attempt at creating a super network, with a computational power greater than all the supercomputers on the planet. It was still light years away from my AI-Core, but it was a mix of human and alien tech. Additionally, it reduced the strain on my own processors considerably (didn’t I mention that I have many projects on which I work simultaneously), and this will considerably lighten the load. Two additional MIs were installed to run the thing, just to be safe and to have supplementary redundancy.
It was sheer luck that enough levels were finished when the attack on Michael happened and everybody came to the silo. The control center and adjoining operations room were done first, so they were put to use immediately, but the residential levels had no amenities that were needed for comfortable living. There was no food, soap, towels, linens, pillows... you get my drift. There was no such material in the first place, and while nanites can do wonders, you can't make something out of nothing. So the first few days were spent on settling in. Everybody was zooming in and out of the place, using transporters to haul necessities, after visiting the big stores to buy all that was needed. They were basically moving into an empty house. As many of you know, that is never easy.
Everything settled down after a while, and I had no complaints about the unusual nature of the site I’ve chosen. I think they even liked it a lot, but this was only temporary. Aside from all the effort on my part to turn this place into a hidden base, it was not a long-term solution. Fully finished, it could support a large number of people. On the other hand, who would want to live underground all the time? It is not healthy, and not a place where you want to be if you suffer from claustrophobia as Dave does.
For now, it will do, but I am even now thinking of something more suitable.
We shall see.