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Maris ran a finger down the length of the cold metallic gatling gun. The weapon was hanging in the grip of a small utility crane, waiting to be lifted into a container and shipped. The team had spent nearly two years designing and redesigning the gun, finding flaw after flaw and encountering problem after problem.
This is it, Maris thought, pulling a handkerchief out of her burgundy jumpsuit to polish it one last time, we've done it.
Their final design was nothing short of ingenuity, and a complete remake of previous models. Each barrel consisted of three different metallic alloys and coated on the inside with a velocity-enhancing gel that replenishes after a shot is fired. Each bullet was built using recent discoveries in aerodynamics. The tips of the bullets were each about three solid inches of a titanium-steel alloy, designed to partially penetrate thick armor and stay there. Once the tip crushes and the bullet appropriately buries itself, a small electrical chip triggers a nitrogen-based explosive in the center of the bullet. Maris's team had also designed alternate anti-infantry bullets which were being shipped along with it. The gun's mechanism was airtight, allowing it to be equipped on sub-space and atmospheric shuttles. A simple A.I. complex gives the operator the ability to change the gun's parameters to fit multiple situations, from firing shots in short sprayed bursts to accurately firing single rounds.
The gatling gun's frame also allowed for it to be turret-mounted, and the team had designed small, toned-down version for three-man infantry teams.
Maris stuffed her handkerchief back into her jumpsuit, admiring the newly gleaming surface of her life's work. She was broken from her reverie several seconds later by a rumble that caused the floor to writhe beneath her. Almost immediately the R&D center's alarm system went off, and Maris rushed out of the warehouse. The red lights flashed past her as she ran towards her team's office. She arrived just as another tremor hit to find Tannis loading magnetically-powered rail rifle.
"Tannis!" Maris shouted over the alarm, causing him to jump up in panic, brandishing his weapon. Maris held up her hands and took a step back as Tannis realized who she was.
"Sorry." The apology was curt and gruff, making him sound insincere. Maris relaxed and shook her head at him.
"What's going on?" A third tremor hit, this one accompanied by the not-so distant sound of an explosion. Tannis glanced in the direction of the sound, his face caught somewhere between shock and abhorrence.
"We're under attack." Tannis paused, adding to Maris's rising frustration. "It's F.I.R.E."
The words burned themselves into Maris, and her mind reeled, attempting to fend off the shock that was suddenly freezing her in place. F.I.R.E. was the Fascist Inter-Republic of England, a Terran empire that had been beaten back in the Galactic War some ten years ago. Under treatise, it had been broken up into individual states and divided amongst the power-hungry Terran nations. Three years after F.I.R.E's dissolution, all contact with Earth and it's nations were lost. After several search attempts, the Galactic Republic decided it's resources were better placed elsewhere.
Earth was a myth to most, forgotten in the splendor of the flourishing Galactic Empire. Those who did remember it thought of it as an impossible mystery, something the human race was unable to solve.
Another deafening boom melted away the shock-inspired atrophy, and Maris turned and ran back towards the warehouse to she if she could locate the remainder of her team.
Half of the warehouse was in ruins, and through the green tint of radiation Maris could see a small air squadron flying away. She turned towards what was left of the building.
Their prize gatling gun, crane and all, was gone.