Shortly after the meeting, Blake left his office and entered the Flight deck. The 2 Boeing Super Spacebus sat on locked cradles on the far side of the empty deck. There is little personnel on the flight decks as most of them are assigned to other duties around the base and the ship. Yet at a corner of the deck, personnel can be seen constantly coming in and out of a workshop.
Blake walked into the workshop, waving away the salutes from the crew. "Deck Chief Gale?" He calls out in the din of racket made by the workshop's fabricators.
"Captain?," A heavyset middle-aged man, dressed in a pair of dark olive green work overalls, lifts the welding mask upwards from his face. "What can I do for you, sir?" Senior Chief Petty Officer Gale Tyson places his work tools and masks down.
"A word, please, Chief?" Blake gestures out of the workshop and with Chief Gale walks to the open launch bay overlooking the base colony. "I got something I need your help with, Chief."
"What do you need Cap?" Chief Gale took out a pack of cigarettes and offers it to Blake, who declines. He shakes his pack and cursed, "Damn, soon these things are gonna worth their weight in gold."
"I need your team to come out with a design for an all-terrain vehicle, that we can produce with what resources we have," Blake says bluntly. "We have no off-road capabilities at all, we need a vehicle capable of ferrying people and a large number of goods over long distances."
Chief Gale lits his cigarette and takes a long drag before exhaling out the smoke. "We can covert the forklifts for use as a truck, but it will require massive overhauling the structure of the vehicle." He takes another smoke before scratching his head. "No, that will take too much time and also ruin a perfectly useful vehicle that we will need for heavy lifting."
"So how is it? Possible?" Blake pressed. "Too much manpower being used as porters and half the time the surveying team spent is just to walk from point A to point B and back."
Gale puffed out some smoke before he carefully stubs out his half-smoked cigarette, "Well, I don't think it should be too hard, we have all sorts of designs and production templates in the computer."
He keeps the cigarette back into its pack. "Well, I get the boys to work out some designs, with the current resources that we can produce. Should take a couple of days before we have something."
"Good," Blake nods. "Well, good chance for you to quit smoking. Unless you can find tobacco growing here."
"That's why I am smoking them slowly, sir." Gale grins. "Alright, I'll get back to work and get the boys to come out with some designs." He gives a salute before returning to the workshop, bawling at his people to not slacken off.
"Come on Lt," Sgt Raman pleads. "I'm already busy as it is," He gestures around the armory, where weapon parts laid all over a table. "They keep breaking the guns!" He graduated from India's Institute of Technology Bombay, completing his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and firearms design before being drafted into the military. If it wasn't for the war, he was supposed to go start work with a high position in a prestigious company.
With his skill set and family connections, after basic military training. he was posted to become a marine armory sergeant onboard UNS Singapore which was supposed to be safe from all conflict!
He knew he didn't fit with the rest of the "real" marines as he thought of them as lower caste than him, but he manages to keep his armory functioning well enough that Staff Pike cannot fault him at all. And recently he heard, that stuck up Cpl James found a treasure trove of gold and silver, damn, lucky asshole. Him, he gets Lt Frank in his armory ordering him around with some ideas to create a new bullet cartridge? Crazy!
"Sgt Raman, I know you are busy, but those work you can delegate to others to do. This," Lt Frank controls his anger, he knows that Raman rarely leaves the armory to help with other work, always saying busy or finding excuses. He holds up his tablet and shoves it under Sgt Raman's nose, "is crucial to our survival here!"
"Lt, it's not that I do not want to do this," Raman explains. "You can't just make a new 6.5mm round with what we have here!"
"Than what do you propose?" Lt Frank asks. "At this rate of ammo consumption, we will run out less than a month!"
"Ah. as I said before, we do not have the materials to produce propellant for the 6.5mm rounds. But we can substitute it with other materials, like black powder or even smokeless if we have the components." Raman came up with some excuses. "Just that, we don't have all those components to produce any!" He hopes that Frank will go away.
"Wait, black powder?" Franks does a quick search in the computer archives. " Sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate."
"But the M7A1 can't handle black powder cartridges! The weapon will jam in a few shots due to the fouling of black powder!" Raman explains like he is talking to a 3-year-old.
"So we need to design a new rifle?" Franks asks. "One that allows the use of black powder."
"Eh, it's easy to design a new rifle, since the computer has tons of templates, the problem is finding potassium nitrate here." Raman gestures at the reloading bench. "We just don't have the materials to make anything. So there is nothing I can do. Oh, Sir, I heard that we found some treasure?"
"Yea, just some gold and silver coins." Franks busy with his tablet, casually answers, missing the look of greed from Raman. "I want you to come out with a new rifle design. No complaints!" He cuts off Raman's objections.
"I will reassign others to take over weapon maintenance. You just concentrate on the rifle design, you have 3 days." Frank held up 3 fingers. "No buts!"
With that, Frank left the armory, leaving Raman with his mouth gaping. Shit! Raman curses, why must I do all these slave work! I am the eldest son of the trade minister of India! Bloody low lives only know how to keep ordering me around! One day, I will show them who is the real boss!