Authors: Ken Pence
Tags: #Science Fiction - Adventure, #Space Opera
“Have at it General. Just hold the trigger back.”
The general aimed, and held the trigger back sweeping it across the running subject who was about 60 meters away by now. The man fell forward without even putting his hands out, and lay there unmoving.
“Did I kill him?” the general asked alarmed.
“No sir,” replied the sergeant major. “They both should come around in a few minutes. It depends on where the beams strike, and the duration of the hit. It also depends on the mass of the subject. These are obviously not to be used on the battlefield, but for peacekeeping. Apprehending criminals with these would be VERY useful…now to the firepower demonstrations. Komenski.”
“Here Sergeant Major,” Private Komenski answered.
“Shoot that abandoned vehicle – 500 meters your eleven o’clock,” ordered Sergeant Major Pinchon.
“Shoot the vehicle, 500 meters at my eleven o’clock,” Komenski replied. He fired with no noticeable effect.
“Did it fire? Did he miss?” were some questions from the generals.
“Komenski. I left that vehicle with its ultracapacitor, and battery pack charged. Target those, private…a couple of shots.”
“Targeting the power packs with a couple of shots,” said Komenski, and there was a flash, and flames shooting up from the vehicle after he fired.
“Private. Please cut the vehicle in half,” the sergeant major said.
“Cutting the vehicle in half – which way?” asked the private.
The sergeant major chuckled, and the audience leaned forward with their binoculars. “Top to bottom will be fine private.”
The private flipped his weapon to continuous, reaimed, and neatly cut the smoldering car from top to bottom, and it visibly fell down in the middle.
“Sirs. Would any of you like to try one out? I have ten,” the sergeant major asked. “Any questions?”
There was polite shuffling as every general came forward. They might be leaders of men, but they were all experienced soldiers, and wanted to try these things out. There was a little trepidation as the weapons were handed out where each was told to keep the weapons on safe, and pointed downrange.
General Clanton asked, “How do adjust for distance?”
“Good question sir. Remember. These weapons are line of sight. No adjustments are needed for windage, or elevation. You see it – you can hit it. Off safe only on my command, and cease fire at my command. Acknowledge by shouting – Affirmative range master.”
There was a resounding yell of “Affirmative range master!” the generals were in a good mood.
“Target anything left of the tall oak in the distance,” the sergeant major yelled.
“Target left of oak,” the generals replied laughing.
“Get serious gentlemen. Understand?” Pinchon yelled.
“Affirmative range master,” the generals shouted.
“Set rifles to continuous fire. Safeties off,” he shouted.
The reply was a bit broken as the shooters figured out how to change the settings though the safety was just like an M8. There was a short pause as Pinchon waited for all to be ready. “Aim,” he shouted, and all the rifles were mounted to shoulders. “Fire at will.”
The only sound was the whip crack of the ionized air, and the explosions down range. There was a good deal of chuckling, and ‘I wonder if these are allowed in deer season, and the like.’
“Keep it down people,” the sergeant major yelled, and waited a minute longer ‘til they were running out of undefiled targets. “Cease fire! Weapons on safe! Privates. Collect those weapons please.”
“What powers these? I heard gasoline,” asked General Robbins.
“Sir. We’ve used almost every flammable hydrocarbon. Diesel, and biodiesel work, but require more cleaning. One of our people even used pure grain alcohol. That worked very well,” Sergeant Major Pinchon replied.
“Don’t the different hydrocarbons produce different energy levels when they burn, and different byproducts,” General Clanton asked.
“There is no ‘burning’ per se, but the hydrocarbon molecules are stripped apart to their elemental particles, and pass through a magnetic field to produce the power. That is why so little goes such a long way. Mister Patterson could explain later if you want a more detailed explanation.”
The general waived him off.
“Now to a little heavier weapon that AcuMint has developed. We like this one very much also. General Clanton. I know you like to shoot. This one kicks a bit if you’re up to it?”
“Thank you sergeant major. I’ve heard the men talking about this one – the railgun?” the general said.
“That’s the one,” and Komenski brought over the weapon, showed the rapid-fire selector, and the safety.
Clanton gave a thumbs-up, and the sergeant major pointed to an old Abrams M1A1 with its depleted uranium, and Kevlar strike plates, some reactive armor added. Specs said the old tank ran about 67 tons, and was arranged dead on to the viewing platform at around 1,000 meters. Sergeant Major Pinchon said in a conversational tone. “Try a few shots offhand sir. Anywhere on it… The sight is a micro-version similar to an old Kearfott gyro stabilized design – so the weapon is smart. Lean into it a bit. Whenever you are ready sir.”
The “throm-crack” sonic boom passage of the depleted uranium, sabot round; was immediately followed by the tank rocking, and the top hatch blown off the vehicle.
“Good shot sir,” said the sergeant major as he was looking through his binoculars. “That would have penetrated the front armor where it is thickest, and killed the crew. Several more rounds… This holds 100 rounds, and weighs in, loaded, at 12 kg. AcuMint wanted it to weigh about what one of the 50 caliber Barretts’ weigh.”
The general aimed, and fired three rounds in rapid succession. The tank literally was torn to pieces, and there were gasps from the onlookers.
“What about fortified locations?” one of the others asked.
“Pretty much the same general,” Sergeant Major Pinchon answered. “The men like it, and its very reliable in wet, dry, hot, or cold conditions though we had to put it in a freezer overnight to test that last – we have the hot, dry, and dusty here. Now you need to hear the good news, and the bad news.”
The generals groaned.
“Good news is AcuMint sells these in whatever quantity we want at 10% above their cost. They have promised us delivery within thirty days on whatever quantity we want with spare parts, and training. My people wrote the manuals on them. Our price on the pulse rifles is one half the cost of an M8. The railguns are about 20% more than the cost of an M8. The depleted uranium rounds for the railguns are fairly expensive – about four times the cost of the 6.8 mm rounds the M8 uses. That is hundreds cheaper than having to carry bunker buster missiles, and other ordinance. It would also simplify training. Now the bad news…other countries have bought these weapons, and we will face them on the battlefield in the near future. I want to turn over this demo to Richard Patterson who has some light at the end of the tunnel for us.”
“You sold these weapons to other nations? How could you do that?” said one of the generals. “Weren’t they restricted?”
Corey showed him documents where General Stephens had sold M8s, ground to air missiles, and bunker buster rockets to Costa Rica, and Argentina.
“General Stephens. I am aware of sales you authorized in Central, and South America. Argentina is still not our ally,” Richard said. “…and below cost. I am selling our weapons at three times our costs to other countries, and I sell them a product that is not quite as robust as what we have here in the States.”
“How do you know that? That is not public knowledge,” said General Stephens.
“Gentlemen. They would simply steal the designs anyway. Is there any way we could prevent them from being reverse engineered, and stolen – from China – really?” I asked. “I manufacture, and sell many products, and intend to sell more – always the best, and cheapest goes to the States – always.”
“So you sell them a inferior product at three times the price, and sell to us at just above cost?” stated General Clanton.
“Yes sir. I have to recoup manufacturing costs so we can equip our people on their dime,” I said.
“…but we are going to face these weapons from other countries. They will tear us up. Look what we did to that tank. Armor is obsolete,” said Clanton.
“Yes sir. This will shift planning of campaigns, but I did not sell to other countries with the intent to leave our country vulnerable…hence the additional part of our demonstration that is necessary to demonstrate my commitment to this government – to this country.”
“Additional demonstration?” asked General Green with his eyes boring into his sergeant major.
“Sir,” Sergeant Major Pinchon responded – “I did not have time to change the programs, but I felt this was important enough that I would risk my career to show you.”
“Sergeant Major Pinchon – I’ve known you a long time. Good enough for me,” stated General Green. “Proceed. Mister Patterson.”
“Gentlemen. Ladies. I would never give the enemy a weapon that we could not defend against. The reason I sell weapons at three times the cost is so I may sell you the defense at 10% over my cost. I have many more products to sell that will change the face of warfare. I intend to give you everything our labs turn out well before anyone else. Their economies will have to struggle to keep up while ours will grow to meet the manufacturing needs,” I said.
“Aren’t some of the components made in other countries?” asked General Slopes.
“Yes sir,” I said, and Corey sent me a thought that Slopes home state was, Oregon. “Just like the circuit boards we use are all made in Oregon – I believe that’s your home state.” The general turned red, and sat down.
“Let’s first look at armor for the individual soldier,” I said, and Wordley handed me a set of armor I strapped on. I also put on a set of goggles with ultra-fast reacting lenses. “First I will demonstrate the unpowered ability to resist energy, and kinetic projectiles. Komenski. You better be a good shot, or my lawyer will kick your ass.” I yelled as I walked about forty meters downrange.
“Komenski. Take this M8, and hit that man-sized plate, silhouette that’s at 100 meters,” ordered the Sergeant Major.
He fired, and you could hear the bullet hit the steel plate of the target. “Now aim center mass, and shoot Mister Patterson.”
Komenski looked incredulously at the sergeant major, and then fired. There was a twock sound, and I gave a thumbs-up. Pinchon took the M8 from Komenski, and gave him a pulse rifle.
“Hit the man-sized silhouette with one shot private.”
Komenski shot the silhouette, and produced a nice clean hole in the center of mass through the steel plate.
“Now Komenski. Fire one round, and one round only at the center of mass of Mister Patterson. One round only.”
Komenski fired, and there was a thunk sound, and I was forced to take a step backward because a small plug of armor was blasted off. I started walking back to the reviewing stand.
I took off the black, body armor, and passed it around the assemblage. “The hit with the 6.8 mm NATO round is in the upper center, and the large gouge from the laser is in the direct center of the chest.” The generals passed it around — ‘ummed’, and ‘ahhed’ a lot, and passed it back to me. “The armor has two states…passive state like now…and an active state. Mister Wordley. Would you do the honors? Tank downrange on your far left first.” I walked about 30 meters downrange, and flicked a switch next to my neck. I was very pleased to hear the whine of my armor charging up. The air around me began to shimmer a bit like a heat waves you see across the desert on a hot day – just a little out of focus. I gave a thumbs-up to Mister Wordley who had a railgun to his shoulder. He fired at the Abrams tank about 500 meters downrange, and then swung the gun toward me.
“No – no,” shouted fully half the generals who had leapt to their feet, but it was too late as Wordley fired.
There was a flash, and ‘thrum’ sound like the low frequency bell that twisted your guts to hear it.
I turned off the suit. “Gentlemen. If the public had gotten wind of this type of demo we would have been stopped. I want you to know that I am FULLY committed to you having the best equipment that you can bet your life on. This does not conclude our demonstration however. Mister Wordley.”
The generals started bombarding me with questions. It took the sergeant major to step in to get them to calm down. He held up both palms, and motioned for quiet. “Sirs. It took me by surprise too. I knew about the pulse rifle, but didn’t know about the railgun – damn – I thought my heart was going to stop. Please give Lieutenant Patterson a moment to explain further, and then he will answer any questions you might have.”
Good job Richard, Corey thought. Go for it.
“The passive function of the suit relies on carbon nanotubes that become rigid with the addition of energy in the form of kinetic weapons, impact weapons, shrapnel, or energy weapons. My guys used to joke that the vest would stop a railgun round, but it would suck the vest through you. We tested it, and it blew a hole as big as a Buick through the vest. The active part only has about one hour of continuous charge, but it will stop virtually anything. Right now you can’t shoot out while it is on. We are working on it so you can walk, and shoot, but we’re not there yet.”