Monday, February 16, 2009

PO # 200420-06

The young man came in from the arid street and closed the solid door behind him. He took a moment to shake off as much dust as he could before opening the cover on the security keypad. A few quick jabs of the finger rewarded him with the sound of the inner door lock releasing and then the seal braking on the environmental gasket.

He stepped out of the antechamber into the locker. He took his cloak and hat off, removed his boots and slipped into his loafers and a clean set of overalls that didn’t quite fit. He knew he was getting a few pairs of custom ones in a few weeks time, he had seen the order Graham had placed. He couldn’t wait. He walked over to the adjacent door and depressed the clean cycle, powerful fans assaulted the room, 'a storm in a bottle' he thoughts again, as he did everyday he went through this. Finally the inner door chime signaled he was ready to enter the shop.

Graham was already here, ‘too bad’ the youth thought, he had wished to impress his mentor with his early arrival. He walked over to his elder and stood by his side quietly, knowing not to address him until the craftsman had deemed his attention could be split.

His hands were creased with age and swollen at the joints, a few of his fingers were slightly calloused but the older master would usually grind those down to keep sensitivity in the tips of his fingers.

“Jamal, get me the micro-torque key. Set it to 400 grams”

As Jamal moved over to the end of the work bench and lit another overhead lamp to help find the tool in question, he hazarded communication.

“This is new isn’t it sir? I haven’t seen you working on it yet.”

The apprentice handed his master the tool and watched as the recipient used it to tighten the bolt carrier key screws.

“Hmm? Oh yes, well – the order came in last night over the Hermes, It had some of the pieces while I waited for you to come in so I decided to start on it”

The apprentice was flush with pride, it had been his idea to use the satellite network to allow for custom orders to come in from far and wide.

“That’s a bolt assembly from a BallisTech, uh, the Er2oh6…”

“Oh7 actually, but close, so what does that tell you about what we are doing?”

“Well it’s a 7mm weapon, rifle caliber. You expect the weapon to function well in hostile environments which is why you chose that bolt assembly, uhm, single fire action?”

“Good my boy, good. Now look at my pins.”

Jamal pulled up a stool and helped himself to the swivel mounted magnifier. He scrutinized the pieces but was unable to see what his mentor was intimating at. His face belied his incomprehension. Instead of disappointment, the elderly Graham smiled.

“Alright, that was a trick question; I suppose you wouldn’t be able to see the difference. Here.”

Mister Bohn handed his apprentice the bolt and the receiver. Jamal assembled them with ease and suspicion gave way to understanding.

“The tension is wrong, I mean, different, you’ve replace the stock extractor and ejector roll pins. Their much stronger now.”

He looked to his mentor eyes and found approval, after a moment he got the sense that the lesson didn’t end there.

“Alright, so why would you do that, right?”

Jamal’s hand moved about the piece, motioning it as it would within the assembly group, he picked up the forward assist spring and the action spring, it was very light in his hand. He set the rest of the piece down and inspected this last one and found it to be atypical for this configuration.

“Ok then, the spring is a lot lighter, a lot, which would indicate a lighter weapon all around…” A furtive look found encouraging eyes so he continued “a riffle for a slight woman or a child?” he advanced, but the smile he elicited was one of bemusement not quite pride.

“It is more than just light my boy, it also displaced 60% more tension. What is more, it’s shorter than your typical spring for this caliber. Now piece that together.”

Jamal look at the piece again and allowed himself to investigate the other components on the bench, shorter receiver extension, shorter action spring, so this was a compact weapon, lighter spring for overall lighter weapon but also more tension, shorter action? No, more recoil, maybe but why shorten…

“A snub nose! You’re going to shorten the barrel and you want more recoil control so more tension in the action spring so that’s going to put more torque on the pins which is why you beefed them up!”

“Good deduction. I you know how parts make a piece better for a purpose, than you start to understand how to make a purpose specific piece. This is a fun order, here, look this.”

Jamal was handed the charging handle and its appearance furrowed his brow and raised an eyebrow, much to the amusement of his mentor.

“This isn’t going to fit, the curvature is wrong on the handle”

“It will my boy, it will fit because I am using a lever action instead of an overhead or side bolt. The customer wants something low profile, that he can holster like a large automatic pistol, a lever action allows him less snagging and I think if we get the grip just right, better accuracy.”

The young man was speechless, he would never have thought of that, but as he imagined it in his head it made perfect sense, other thoughts along the same line came forward so he voiced them.

“In line magazine follower?”

“No, detachable magazine, you’re right it would be less profiled, but slower to reload”

“Ahhh. So what’s the barrel length?”

“That, my by, is your task today. Take apart two Special 7mm Sparrows, Remove the nuts, delta ring and extenders then reassemble one and cut it down to 40 cm. Take it out to the range and start squeezing-off rounds, cut it 1 cm between shots and track your muzzle speed. Keep doing that until you have 20 cm left or so.”

Jamal took note of every step for the process, no doubt remained as to how to proced but his expression underscored his incomprehension at the overarching purpose. His mentor read into his confusion and proceeded to enlighten him.

“We want the barrel to be as short as possible for the customers request but how short is that?”

“I don’t know sir”

“Me neither, so you are going to find out. Once you’ve taken readings for each barrel length we can draw a curve and see the optimal point, before we've lost too much spin and velocity in favor or compactness. Once we know the best balance between length and remaining power, you’ll cut the second barrel to that length and finish it like it was forged that way.”

Jamal nodded and went to get the stock pieces for disassembly. There had been a time when he would have questioned the over complicated procedure, but he knew that Graham Bohn did things only one way, the best. The customer would pay for it but he would also get the best weapon for his requirements.


Hermes 72 - Heavy Gear RPG - Most artwork Copyright 2002 Dream Pod 9, Inc.