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"Ahh... fuck..." Flight Lieutenant Peter gripped the parachute controls as he floated down, his chute deploying automatically. A second white chute was drifting down following the wind, meant that Flight Sergeant Legos had also safety ejected from the dead plane. "Tommy is gonna tear me a new one for ruining his plane..."

He had tried a tricky maneuver, going vertically up and dropping all power, letting the plane free fall down before bringing the throttle up. He nearly succeeds, the plane slowly responding to his controls, but it pushed the engine beyond its limits and started to overheat, red warning lights lit up and the engine died, sending the plane into a flat spin.

Immediately he yelled for Legos to eject, and pulled the release for the canopy where explosive bolts blew the canopy away and he waited till Legos to eject out before he pulled his own ejection bar.

As he floated down, a couple of jeeps with red and blue lights flashed and raced towards their landing locations, while another jeep and a red half track headed to the crashed plane were thick smoke was brewing out, most likely the red fire truck was going to put out the fire.

The ground soon reared up towards Peter and remembering his training, he flared the parachute and kept his knees bent and landed, his momentum making him running a few paces before he came to a stop.

Almost a hundred meters away, Legos also landed, but with more grace than him who gave a thumbs up to indicate he was alright, after which he started to collect the parachute.

One of the jeeps screeched to a halt next to Peter while the other jeep headed to where Legos had landed. "Any injuries?" One of the elves asked, his armband had a red cross.

"I'm unhurt, just my ego is injured," Peter gave a sigh as he rolled up his parachute. "Gonna be a hell of a report to write when I get back."

-----

Sawtooth Mountain Pass, Marine Support Base, CO office

Peter and Legos stood at attention, having a day to recover from their mishap, in front of Commander Tommy's desk. Captain Blake sat at one of the chairs, facing the two pilots, watching them sweat.

"So from your report, you tried to pull a stunt, going 90 degrees vertical and flat dropping down into a dive, but was unable to recover cause the engine stalled?" Tommy asked sternly.

"Yes, Sir!" Peter responded. "As per instructions on the test run, I managed to find a way on how the engine will overheat and stall, Sir!"

Blake gave a bark of laughter. "Damn this kid is good."

Tommy's face turned red, "Goddamn it Peter, you knew that this is a prototype and maneuvers like that, especially on a pusher configuration, the engine will stall!"

"Now you just cost us weeks and months of research and material losses!" Tommy scolded, "You are lucky the Captain did want to write you up on charges of recklessness and destruction of government property!"

"Calm down, Tommy," Blake said, "Good thing is both pilots are fine, we can always build another plane, it is also the purpose of the trial flights to find issues and problems before mass production."

"Dismissed!" Tommy said, waving the two out of his office, who both gave a salute and retreated rapidly out.

"Well, at least we know pushing the engine too hard will cause it to overheat and stall," Blake said. "Guess we need a coolant for the engine."

Tommy nodded, "That's an issue with pusher engine configurations, it doesn't get cooled as much as a pull configuration engines as the propellers cool the engines."

"I think the next gen aircraft design will be a traditional engine mounted forward," Blake sighed, "New monoplane designs for faster speeds in the future once we have enough materials to construct them, but we really lacking the skill sets and knowledge on building a proper aerodynamic frame."

"Luckily we have a couple more airframes on standby, except we are not using carbon fiber for the struts and supports, but with wood," Tommy said. "We don't have that must stock of carbon fiber, nor do we have the capability to produce more."

Tommy mentally calculated and said, "My guys will be able to assemble up the remaining two airframes in a day. As for the crashed bird, maybe the engine and cockpit could still be salvaged, but the airframe, wings, and tail are totaled."

"We can rebuild it, but it will take a week or so," Tommy added, "At least, a basic flight can be achieved with the prototypes. I could get the recruits to start doing practice takeoffs and landings first."

The current cadre of trainee pilots was drawn from volunteers from both elves and humans. Some of the crew members had experience in flying hover cars and ultralights as hobbies when on Earth. They applied to be part of the Airforce when they heard that pilot positions were opened. Now, after everyone passed the basic entry requirements, which out of 200 over applications, less than 60 passed. They went through a daily rigorous training both physically and mentality, as they require a fit and strong body to resist against G-forces, and also the ability to handle stress while making split-second decisions while under fire.

"Once the other two prototype frames are fitted with the engines, I will start the men on the basics, once they are ready, they will be doing actual flying," Tommy said, "So far all they were doing is just simulated flying and lessons on tactics and formations."

Blake nodded, "Do it but do it with safety in mind. I don't wanna lose both men and machines to careless mistakes."

"You got it, Boss!" Tommy replied.

-----

1 km East of Base Colony, Ordnance Research Divison Facility

The temperature in the processing room was kept at a cool elven Degree Celsius, and a pressing machine sat next to a hopper of chopped greenish yellow shrooms. A conveyor belt system carried the cut shrooms over to the presser, which gently applied enough pressure to squeeze out a thick, colorless, oily substance, which was then passed through a strainer and filter and collected into a container which was cooled to a constant five Degree Celsius. The collected nitroglyence was then stored in a freezer, only to be taken out when required.

The nitroshrooms were harvested from the first level of the dungeon carefully, and its spores collected. A program had begun to cultivate the shrooms outside of the dungeon had started and the results are unknown yet if it will be successful or not.

In another site, pulp made from fibrous grass harvested from the plains were soaked in a mixture of nitric and sulphuric solution, after which was washed and dried. The process is then repeated a few times before gun cotton or nitrocellulose is created.

The highly flammable compound was also stored in a temperature and shock resistance environment. Both compounds were then gelatinised with a ratio of 65% nitrocellouse and 30% nitroglyense with 5% resin jelly from the sap of the native ever blue trees, forming into spaghetti like sticks.

The experimental smokeless powder was three times more powerful than the current black powder formula used and has a flatter trajectory. The current rifle cartridge cases could be shortened, reducing weight and allowing more compact weapons, smaller caliber and more ammunition to be carried.

The ordinance team was ecstatic over the development of the new propellant, especially Luther who almost lost half his hand from an accidental explosion when he discovered guncotton. But despite the discovery of the formula of smokeless powder, they still did not have any success in coming out with a primer for use, so the military still has to use fire runes on mana stones as primers and fuses.

News of the success of creating a smokeless propellant had Master Sergeant Pike heading to the Ordnance Research Facility in a rush. He cradled a large and heavy object, wrapped in oilskins and forced his way through security and into the facility.

The ordnance design team was called to gather at one of the conference rooms and when they arrived, they found a clearly over excited Pike pacing impatiently at the head of the table waiting for them and a large package rested on the table top.

"All here?" Pike asked as the team piled in. "I heard you guys had succeed in making a smokeless propellant, yes?"

The team nodded as one, and Pike's face broke into a rare smile, surprising the whole team. He went to the package on the table and started to unwrap the oilskins, revealing a weapon that clearly looks like a machine gun.

A single long barrel with a perforated shroud covering the barrel with a folded back bipod was attached to a boxy body that ended with a pistol grip and solid wooden stock. Pike pushed the release clasp on the top side of the machine gun and lifted up the top cover and displaying the belt fed system. A simple iron sight was just a notched 'V' sight mounted to a post on the rear and a single leaf blade at the front of the barrel.

Pike next unrolled a metallic linked ammunition belt from a bag and placed it next to the machine gun. "A new design I came out with recently. I had the fabricators worked on it first, that's why I have this here."

"It's chambered for our current 6.5 mm rounds, and I ran a couple of hundred of rounds through it already," Pike proudly show off his new weapon. "But with black powder, it clogs up the internal mechanism after less than a dozen rounds."

He points to the ammunition belt and said, "That's a non-disintegrating metallic link ammo belt of 50 rounds. Since I heard you guys managed to come out with a new propellant, I need a new 6.5 mm cartridge capable of allowing this weapon to find over a thousand rounds without jamming."

The team started a rowdy discussion among themselves as they compared ballistic data. "Top, your machine gun might have to be remodeled." One of the Ordnance guys said.

"The current black powder 6.5 mm cartridge case is 75mm long holding a charge of 90 grains or 5.9 grams of black powder." The tech explained, "The charge is just enough to propel the bullet at over 650 m/s."

"But our new propellant is almost three times more powerful and effective than the black powder formula we are using now," the tech said. "We need to cut down the cartridge length, or risk overpressure which can blow up the cartridges inside the chamber and damaging the bolt and receiver and it will also increase wear and tear of internal parts of any weapon greatly."

"Give us some time to play around with propellant loads," Luther with the damaged hand said. "Once we got the science nailed down, we can design a new cartridge out based on the ballistic data."

Pike nodded, "I leave this here, I still got a 20 mm autocannon to design out, so I need you guys to help on that too."

The team nodded eagerly, crowding around the machine gun and checking it out while discussing what is the best way for the ammo to be.

"Oh ya, since you guys have new explosives to work with, I expect a new mortar bomb to be replacing our current black powder ones?" Pike added just before he left the room, making everyone groan. "And tracers too before I forget, thanks!"

"New ammunition design and mortar bombs for Top and the Captain wants improved rockets, a 100 kg bomb, and a 250 kg bomb, Luther grinned, holding up his wounded hand and rubbing it tenderly which he is supposed to have an appointment with the Doc to fix his hand.

"Life is getting more exciting here!"

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