The next few weeks were pretty insane. The pistol and bullet designs were actually the easiest parts. The bullets almost needed no tweaking. The pistol bullets depended on an organic compound not of this Earth, but the rifle bullets were filled with an easily recreated liquid. Besides, despite being extremely quiet, the pistol bullets were somewhat useless.
The gun was basically an Arsenal Firearms Strike One which I had monkeyed around with a bit. The first thing (apart from re-chambering it for the new six-and-a-half millimeter ammo I was designing,) I had changed was some slight changes to the slide so it would be able to carry FN FP sights, as well as some cosmetic detailing. The second thing I had changed was to modify the slide and magazine so that the slide only cycled all the way back if the weapon was empty or the safety was on. I also tightened the tolerances of the tolerances on the exterior and completely sealed the firing mechanism off from the outside. This, I thought, might make it usable underwater. Also, the small size of the round allowed me to have a somewhat shorter twenty-round magazine, instead of the Strike One’s long seventeen-round magazine. Finally, seeing as I had limited resources, and I wasn’t sure how powerful the round would be, I decided to make it all metal instead of polymer-frame.
Still, it took a lot to get all the components organized. Krieger was a little curious about why I needed the various materials, but he relented eventually. At some point, I would have to tell him, if only to remain on his good side.
Also, due to my paranoia, I did as much of the production in the dorm as I possibly could. John didn’t say anything, mostly because he spent most of his time out of the dorm, but on when he walked in on me wearing a surgical mask and pouring the nasty-smelling propellant into some bullets, he just walked out.
I just sighed and continued pouring. At some point, I’d have to reassure him that I wasn’t making meth or anything, just explosives. I’d also have to figure out how to clean it out of vinyl floors. It wouldn’t be fair to the next person to use the room, drop a cigarette, and cause an explosion. In the meantime, I’d just have to make do with quickly blotting it off the floor.
The assembly was also kind of a pain. For those of you who don’t know, you can’t just 3D-print an entire gun. To do the bullets in only two printings, I needed to use the most advanced printer on campus. The main part of the gun I had to do in chunks, with each individual component (springs, slabs of metal, hinges) being needed to be assembled by hand. That was probably the hardest part.
Eventually, at a point so late on Friday night it was technically Saturday morning, I texted Nari. All I said in the text was, “It’s finished.”
Nari instantly texted me back. Or maybe it wasn’t instant. I’m not sure. I was so tired my sense of time was completely fucked up. Anyway, the text read, “Meet me at 11:30. Sun Tzu B005.” I recognized that room. It was where I had taken a pistol course last year.
I set my timer and fell face-first onto the bed. As usual, the little sleep I could get was filled with nightmares. Thankfully, I can barely remember any of them, because I think they were worse than they’d ever been that night.
Inevitably, right when I had finally gotten to sleep, the alarm I had set on my phone rang. John groaned. “I. Just. Got. To. Sleep!” he grumbled.
“Sorry, sorry,” I said, quickly silencing it. I then stared at him. “Where were you last night?” I asked.
John mumbled something, then went back to sleep. I sighed. He must have been doing his own project as well. I’d ask him when he actually was awake. In the meantime, I’d have to get my clothes on, take a shower, and eat breakfast. I’d also need to put the pistol somewhere safe. I wasn’t sure it could fit in either of my holsters, and I didn’t want to leave either of my carry guns. I decided that I could stick it in the case I used for my G-3K.
After showering in the communal bathroom and getting everything packed, I checked out the window. I sighed. It was raining so heavily I’d need my raincoat. The rainy season was now in full force. As I ran through the rain, I felt a twinge of sympathy for the fresh meat going through Hell Semester.
Still, I was very happy to actually eat some food inside. It was a Korean-style breakfast that day (in other words, the same thing they have every meal.) Not wanting to have something as spicy as kimchi for my first meal, I decided I’d just have some rice and tea. I finished off my rice quickly, then walked down into the basement for my meeting with Nari.
However, when I got to the elevator, I saw that Nari and May were waiting at the elevator, May holding a white paper bag. Emblazoned across the bag were the words “Sir Galahad’s,” and the logo of a knight. I recognized it as the logo of a coffee shop across the street from The Drunken Mercenary. “Hey guys,” I said. “Is May in on this now?”
May rolled her eyes. “This nutbag talked Andy and me into producing your death machines. I was asking her to help me tutor the study club and she somehow knew that you’d invested into my company…”
“You told me, remember?” Nari said, somewhat petulantly. I noticed that she had a t-shirt for some heavy metal band to go with her jeans. It was a far cry from what she wore when I had brought her back from Korea.
“I did?” May asked blankly.
“You did,” Nari said. “Remember when you were trying to teach me to appreciate Immortal Technique and we somehow discovered Metallica instead?”
“Oh yeah,” May said. “Anyway, Nari… expressed doubts about your ability to produce guns. Also, I’m apparently here to assess.”
“I… I really don’t know,” I admitted. “I have to admit, I don’t think I would be able to continue the rate of production.” As I finished that thought, the elevator dinged and we walked in.
“What is the rate of production?” Nari asked.
“Well, ripping off the design was two and a half days of not sleeping,” I said, “and assembling the thing was another.”
May, upon hearing this, inspected me. Nari, meanwhile, clapped her hands together and said, “Really? That is impressively productive. If you were a North Korean, you would definitely be considered for the Choseon Roryeok Hunchang. I believe it translates as the Order of Korean Labor.”
“He does look like he’s been doing some labor,” May commented acerbically. “Normally, I don’t encourage over-caffeinating, but when you finish that tea, I got some hot chocolate for you.”
Mentally translating that as “Dude, you look like shit,” I said, “Thank you. Did Eliza tell you how much I like hot chocolate?”
“Yes,” May said. “By the way, first study group is today. If you want to get some sleep…”
“Actually, I kind of have a lot of work,” I said. “I can’t…”
“Let me rephrase,” May said as the elevator dinged, her expression morphing into her signature death glare. “After showing us your murder toy, you will go back to your dorm room and you will go to sleep. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said.
“Good,” May said.
“Hey,” Nari said impatiently, “the room isn’t being kept all day! Onwards!” We followed her as she half skipped, half ran down the hall. When we were halfway down the hall, Nari asked, “So, Nathan, what is this weapon called?”
“I haven’t thought of a name,” I admitted.
Nari just shrugged. “So? We’ll just call it the P-1.”
“No,” I said, shaking my head. “It needs a name. I know guns are usually just random characters, but I want to have it actually have a name, if only for marketing purposes.”
“Marketing purposes?” Nari asked.
“You know,” I said, “something that attracts attention, something that lets people know instantly what kind of firearm it is.”
Nari nodded as she unlocked the door with her cPhone. “Interesting idea,” she said. “I will have to consider it.”
We then entered the room. Down the range, I noticed several green human-shaped objects supported by wire, several of which were wearing bullet-proof vests. There was also what seemed to be a portable wall with standard target silhouettes painted on. “What are those?” I asked.
“The green target dummies are designed to mimic a human when shot,” Nari said. “May is here to assess the damage.” As she spoke, she went to a console by the far wall and began punching in commands.
“Joy.” May said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
Ignoring her, Nari said, “The dummies are wearing a variety of common armor types to test penetration. The wall targets also double as a pressure pad. If we want raw data, we can record how hard the bullet hits the wall. The room” she gestured to show that she was talking about the entire room, “also has cameras at various points that will help record the firing. I suspect that you, Mr. Jacobs, as the chief military consultant, will find this useful.” She then plugged in an external hard drive. “Anyway, let’s see what you have made.”
I opened up the case. Nari was suitably impressed. May was indifferent. I then began explaining everything about the gun I could think of, from the design I had kind of stolen to the features I tried to implement. “Now,” I said, “I haven’t really designed a gun before. I’d be cautious in case I fucked it up and it explodes.”
Nari, not really paying attention to that last part, picked up the gun. “Why is being heavy a bad thing?” she asked. “I would think that people would want heavier weapons to minimize recoil.”
“People can live with recoil,” I said, “but when you’re trekking deep into enemy territory on foot, you want to cut as much weight. The individual soldiers will thank any manufacturer who shaves weight.” I eyed her hesitantly. She was holding the gun in both hands so that she could see the slide. It was pointed in a safe direction (in this case meaning not at her, May, or me) “Maybe you should put that back…”
Nari nodded. “Good to know,” she said. “Next question, where is the safety?”
I told her where the safety and magazine catch were, but before I could add, “…but you should probably wait,” Nari was already striding towards the firing line.
“Shooter ready,” Nari said, “start recording.”
“Understood,” a computerized voice said. “Recording commencing.”
“Nari,” May said, “Maybe you should listen to Nate and take it slow.”
Her words were punctuated by the loudest pistol shot I had ever heard up to that point. I had been watching Nari from the rear as she had walked to the firing line. Her stance when she had fired had been pretty bad. She had also fired mid-step. This was one of the reasons she fell back. The other was that the recoil had caused the gun to fly back and hit her in the face.
Luckily, the floor was padded to reduce noise. It also probably broke her fall a bit. May and I both ran over to her. As I did, I noticed that one of the dummies had a hole in its bullet-resistant vest and was shaking violently. There were also a few strange bumps in the plate.
When I got to where Nari was, I kicked the gun away from her in case she decided to fire it again. May, meanwhile, had gotten out a pen light. “Shit,” she said. “Her eyes are unevenly dilated. And she’s smiling. She might be concussed.”
I looked down at Nari. May was right. She was grinning like a loon. She must have been punch-drunk from being hit in the face with a high-powered handgun.
“Uilon mangchi…” she said, sounding somewhat drunk.
“Yeah,” May said. “It’s a concussion, she’s speaking nonsense.”
Nari shook her head. “It isn’t nonsense, you Capitalist toady. It’s Korean. Uilon mangchi means righteous hammer.” She smiled even wider and looked at us both. “It’s also what we’re calling this gun.”