Master Sergeant Pike cursed as he dumped the glossy magazine he was reading on to his desk. "Goddammit!" He took a deep breath and calmed himself down, before picking up the gun catalog magazine back up and flipping through its pages.
"Top, you ok?" Mills leaned back from his chair, tilting back and looking into Pike's office.
"Peachy as hell," Pike growled back, and Mills quietly returned to his original position. "Damn that Indian fucker!" He compared the technical drawings of the M2 Magespitter with his own unfinished design and flipped through the gun catalog. He worked as an armorer many years ago when he was still a noobie third sergeant and his knowledge of creating firearms from scratch was amateurish at best despite his hobbies in antiqued late 20th century firearms.
He knows how to fine tune a rifle, mod a shotgun or even scratch build simple hobby bolt actions and pistols, but designing and making a military grade heavy machine gun, was totally out of his depth. On his work desk were several technical drawings of designs, from mortars to cannons to an engine.
"Should I go for a hand crank design or a recoil assist system?" Pike muttered to himself, "Damn, those eggheads better research out how to make smokeless powder, the bloody black powder is just too dirty for recoil assisted guns.
The M2 Magespitter will require cleaning and maintenance after roughly firing 600 rounds, or the weapon will jam, as the fouling will choke up the wind runes, preventing them from activating. The M1 Magelock is slightly better, able to fire close to a thousand rounds before needing to be properly cleaned. In fact more the half the time the Marines spent during the defense of the Pass was just to clean their weapons.
Now he needed to come out with a machine gun design for using black powder cartridges and another design for using smokeless powder. He mentally cursed again, damning Raman's soul to the deepest hell for deleting all the weapons data in the armory and sighed, diving back to his work on making a machine gun.
UNS Singapore, Biohazard and Containment Laboratory
Spaceman Senior Apple was whistling to the music playing in the background and dressed in a yellow biohazard protection suit. Her work involved testing and analyzing all unknown organic material if it is capable of consumption or the chemical makeup. Samples were constantly passed to her from surveying teams and just recently, a new batch of samples arrived and they were directly from exploring Dungeon.
Apple got tasked to check the meat of the giant ants if they were safe to be consumed and it turned out to be pack full of proteins and minerals. She even managed to try it at the cafeteria the next day and the kitchen staff labeled it in the menu as Ant Meat Pasta.
When she tried it, she found the ant meat sweat like crab meat, and the pasta was actually made out of potato flour, stir fried with chopped tomatoes and herbs. It tasted better than the usual slime noodles.
She took a sample case, labeled with #UIF-112 on the top of the container, UIF for Un-Identifed Flora, and removed the vacuum sealing. A large football sized greenish brown mushroom with white spots on the crown sat in a storage case.
"Hmmm, what do we have here?" She hummed along to the music playing in the background and used a digital camera and snapped a few photos and then gently scraped off some silvers of the mushroom with a scraper, placing them onto a petri dish and inserted the dish into an analyzer. Next, she used a scalpel and cut out a small portion of the mushroom and placed it on to another petri dish and placed it under an imaging device.
She turned on the device and a microscopic view of the mushroom popped up on the display. She then cut more pieces of the shroom and ran a tox screen followed by a nutrient test, just as she was about to run the next series of tests, the analyzer beeped urgently, with red warning lights flashing.
She quickly dropped what she was doing at the moment and checked the analyzer reports, and her eyes grew wider and wider as she read the incredible results.
"Oh my god," She quickly picked up all the pieces of mushroom she cut, and gently placed them back into the container and resealed it. She hit the intercom linking to the medical lab down the hall and said, "I got a Code Black here. Requesting immediate removal of Code Black item to a safe room now!"
She grabbed a shock and blast resistance case from the room's emergency stores and packed the storage case #UIF-112 carefully into the foam lined box and placed it into the two way bin, letting it get decontaminated inside the bin before the medical and science team members came.
"What is it?" Dr. Sharon asked using the intercom from outside the Biohazard and Containment Lab, as she and her colleagues waited for the decontamination countdown timer to finish.
"The chemical analyzer picked up large traces of nitroglycerin inside the sample," Apple spoke through the intercom. "The computer immediately drops a high explosive alert, and following protocol, I stopped all work on it and resealed it back and encased it in a shock and blast resistance container.
"Nitroglycerin?" Dr. Sharon asked in a surprised voice, "Are you sure?"
Apple punched a few keys on the computer and brought up a display. She connected the camera and enlarged the image of the mushroom, followed by pulling out the analyzer report putting it side by side with the image.
"42% Nitroglycerin, 33% crude fiber and ash, 9% liquids, 5% iron, 4% phosphorus, 3% potassium, 1% sulfates and the rest will require more in-depth testing," Dr. Sharon read the report. "Oh my, where is this from?"
"The dungeon, they sent us a sample a few days back," Alex replied, "The system is saying nitroglycerin is highly unstable, so that's why I am calling a Code Black."
"Got it," Dr. Sharon nodded, and turned around and ordered her people, "Ok, transport it carefully, it is highly explosive, put it in a secured cooler."
"Alright, we will be handling this carefully," Dr. Sharon said next, "Apple, I want you to continue analyzing the Nitroshroom, but use small samples to be safe."
"Nitro-shroom?" Apple repeated back, "I guess that is an appropriate name..."
"Hmmm, I got to report this up higher," Dr. Sharon grinned, "I think the Marines and the Captain will be very happy to hear this news."
Outskirts of Base Colony, Chemical Research Center
At roughly the same time, just several kilometers away, at a secured location away from the City, a research center for the sole purpose of researching smokeless powder was constructed. It was purposely built far away from the city center to prevent accidents from happening should the lab explode due to the nature of the research they were working on.
A loud explosion ripped through the lab, sending the few researchers tumbling back in shock, shards of glass and plastics flew everywhere, some causing cuts on the researchers despite the protective coats due to the force of the explosion.
Spaceman Luther turn chemist researcher screamed in shock and pain, half his left hand blown off by the explosion, blood pooling underneath his hand as he kneeled on the lab floor crying. His colleagues rushed to his aid, carrying a first aid kit, wrapping a bandage over his torn up left hand. "Are you alright? Luther?"
Luther laughed and cried at the same time, cradling his hand and said, "I did it! I made gun cotton!" before his eyes rolled up and went into shock.
"Fuck! Get him to the hospital quick! He has gone into shock!" His colleagues jab him with a tranq shot and carried him out of the lab and towards the motor pool.
UNS Singapore, Captain's office
"Captain!" Commander Ford knocked on the opened door and entered without waiting for a reply, "We got some very good news and... bad, I guess."
"What's the bad news?" Blake stopped his work and leaned back on his chair looking up at Ford.
"Well, I won't really say it is bad, just one of our amateur chemist got his hand blown off and we have a live explosive onboard the ship in our labs." Ford said, "I am not sure of the details, Dr. Sharon said one of the samples brought in from the cave is highly explosive."
Blake eyebrows rosed, "Ok, nothing happened to both the labs?"
"For the chemist lab, just some broke equipment, and two others with minor injuries," Ford reported, "And Dr. Sharon isolated the explosive sample to a secured location for testing explosives."
Blake nodded, "And the good news?"
"Well, the chemist who got his hand blown off, found out how to make guncotton," Ford grinned, "that was what his colleagues said he said before he fainted."
"Is that how he got his hand blown off?" Blake asked, and seeing Ford nod, "Okay, I want the lab to have the strictest procedure in handling dangerous material and explosives. Get Pike to go knock some heads. We are lucky, no one is dead or blows up the city."
Ford nodded again, "Got it and one more thing, the explosive sample down the labs here, is actually some kind of shroom that has a high concentration of nitroglycerin!"
"Wait! Guncotton and nitroglycerin are key ingredients for making smokeless powder yes?" Blake shot up from his seat, excited.
"Yes, Sir," Ford grinned, "Once we can properly extract and manufacture both ingredients, it will just be a matter of time before we successful create a smokeless powder formula."
"Alright, make ensure safety is a priority on all the labs and research centers, have Pike or guys with explosive handling knowledge to drill in the importance of safety to those working in the labs and research centers," Blake ordered and grinned, "Finally, things are looking slightly better than before!"
Ford agreed, "Yes, it seems this month is the most peaceful month we have since landing here."
"Well, that won't last for long," Blake sighed, "Take a look, Intel just sent this over." He turned on the office display for Ford, showing a map with several red and yellow dots. There were also a large number of green dots scattered all over. "Red for monster attacks, while yellow for sightings of monsters."
"The green dots represent confirmed sightings of goblin activity," Blake explained.
"Damn, that is a lot of goblin activity!" Ford did a quick count of the green dots.
"No need to count, there is a total of 89 reports and it is climbing daily," Blake said, "Not only goblins, but we also have reports of giant snakes, salamanders or a land dragon variant, wind wolves, giant boars, and some other creatures still not identified by the people working out in the forest and farms."
"In a way, we get plenty of meat and animal products when the Marines kill them," Blake continued, "But we only so many troops to spread around, and the next batch to graduate is still two months out."
"Lucky, we managed to get a source of mana stones, even if it in a limited amount," Blake added, "If not, it will be back to arrows and swords for the new recruits."
"Well, we also can't keep relying on the Marines to constantly farm the dungeon," Ford pointed out, "We will probably need to form a full-time team of hunters and gatherers to work in the dungeon."
"Yeah and I am very interested with those potions they found in the dungeon," Blake rubbed his chin, "If we can mass produce them, our medical worries will lessen a lot, at the rate of injuries people are getting lately."
"That's all the excitement for today," Ford said, "I better go look for Pike."
Blake nodded and turned to the report Ford just sent him, and grinned, "That's from Sharon?"