Craft designed for excavations. Throughout their history, the D'ni people had constructed 4 such machines: Old Stone Teeth, Rock Biter, The Burrower, and finally the Grinder.

They were long and sinuous, like huge, segmented worms. When in operation, an excavator performs sinuous and quiet movements resembling a living creature. The excavators were built to withstand massive pressures. Even a major collapse would not crush the machine. When boring a tunnel, a cooling fluid dribbles down the thick grooves of the drill, but despite this, the drill head would glow red after operation. Once wholly immersed in a tunnel, its tail end lashes from side to side scoring the smooth-bored wall with tooth-shaped gashes. These gashes are to be used later as a purchase to facilitate the diggers to dig out the collar. Excavators bore a hole of a relatively small circumference, less than a third of the final tunnel. The rest is done by a Cycler.

Inside, an excavator was a self-contained ship with living quarters etc. It was divided in sections and rooms, traversed by a long narrow corridor. All doors were permanently closed with a heavy bolt, as they were barrier against fire or dangerous gases.[1]

The entrance was in the front section. From forward to backward, the sections of an excavator were:

  • Front section, just behind the great drill. There was the entrance to the ship as the Guild Master's cabin and, next to it, the chart room. The two were separated by a bulkhead that would seal automatically in times of emergency.
  • The equipment room was a corridor flanked by equipment such as the massive rock drills, blast-arble cylinders, helmets and test tubes, all stored in racks, cupboards and drawers, secured against sudden jolts.
  • The crew quarters have bunks (typically 18, stacked 3x3 inside the curve of each wall).
  • Refectory where the cook (perhaps a Master of the Guild of Caterers) was preparing the meals.
  • Bathing quarters
  • Sample store
  • The corridor ends with a solid metal door at the tail of the craft that was always kept closed. It leads to a small room full of small cupboards with equipment and chemicals for analysis. A work surface ran flush with the curved walls at waist height, forming an arrowhead.


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