Excerpt from Moving Thei Pieces

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Right now, most of my time was being spent developing the gunships based upon Swass-class transports. I'd designed in a bomb bay for napalm bombs, as even the extended range flamethrowers required being too damned close to the terrain - call it two sixty-fours of paces, local measure. Two Gatling-style machine guns firing our standard rifle round and two high-velocity automatic grenade launchers and the ammunition for them filled the rest of the cargo area, firing off the left side of the plane so the pilot could see what was happening. The problems were weight and balance - first, the firing platform had to be reinforced, and then we had to make certain that neither the weight of the platform nor the recoil of the weaponry unbalanced the plane. Then we had to ensure our pattern for feeding ammunition worked also. It appeared they weren't major problems, and I'd checked my solutions through computer simulations at Bolthole Base, but we'd never be certain until the first time we tested them under conditions as close to combat as we could devise. The first prototypes would be ready in a couple more days - if the demons waited that long. Speaking of which, "Makis, spread the word that putting in extra time is encouraged and will be paid at higher rates on the new Nhadragh planes. I've got a feeling we'll be needing them soon."

"Right, boss. Can't wait to see if it all works." He'd been born a farmer's son outside Yalskarr. He was big and brawny, at least by local standards. He'd helped crew one of the Vickers machine-gun knock-offs we'd used to defend Yalskarr from the last big demonic incursion, and stuck around to learn the aircraft business as it grew from the first primitive plane to what it was today. These days, he looked older than I did, but he'd become one hell of a designer and project manager. He'd probably contributed more actual original ideas to the Nhadragh than I had. Once upon a time, he'd asked where I was getting the designs for our planes from. I'd told him, "I can't tell you that yet. Trust me." He'd never asked again, but the look he gave me now was eloquent enough. He knew the designs were coming from somewhere that wasn't Calmenan in origin, but he also knew how much what Asina and I were doing had benefitted Yalskarr and the rest of Calmena.

"Soon, Makis. I'll be able to tell you soon."

"Suddenly, I'm chilled. Like a likahn digging up my grave." He wasn't stupid. In fact, he was probably the smartest natural state human I knew.

"I understand." No need to tell him the demons were on the way in such numbers as to constitute a tsunami that would wipe away all life where it reached. "But there are wonderful things coming as well."

"Hope my grandchildren will be alive to enjoy them."

What to say? I couldn't guarantee the next week to anyone living on Calmena - myself and Asina included. The only thing I could do was nod. "Let's get this plane ready. Quickly."

It was his turn to nod. "I'll tell the assembly line managers to push production, too."

"All deliberate speed," I agreed, "It will do no good to send out four aircraft that fall apart rather than two or three that work like they should."

He nodded again in understanding - there'd be no time to repair mistakes.

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on January 29, 2024 7:00 AM.

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