August 2

Hard Ridin’ – Part 3

The adventures of Grin continue in this 3rd Part of the story.

*****

The next day Grin lead Mask’s men to the spot where the container was buried. After studying it, and its contents, the simplest course of action that all agreed upon was to empty out everything from the container, and then remove the top of the container. After that it would be a matter of building a ramp over which the machine would drive out, or in the worst possible case the machine would have to be pulled out.

The good news was that the machine was filled with fuel, but with its battery dead a new one had to be installed. Grin was prepared for that eventuality and he connected a battery from another machine he once found to power the pickup. It did not fit the bracket but until Grin was back home there was no way of charging it up. Slowly and steadily Grin drove the machine out of its prison. Its wheels and suspension making the climb up over the metal scrap that formed the improvised ramp a breeze. Its engine purred, uncharacteristically to how most machines sounded.

He could tell how much the others wished to bury him in the empty container and claim the machine for themselves, but they were working for Mask, and a double-cross would had ended poorly for all involved.

The rest of the haul was very beneficial to the others as well. The container was indeed filled with old supplies, even some weapons and ammunition none could truly make anymore. There was bound to be a lot of in-fighting for the best picks, if Mask allowed it.

Now returning to his clan’s grounds, being followed by the gaze of every single Hyena living there, Grin parked his car where it was always meant to go, in his workshop.

The so called workshop was, in essence, a large metal shack where a pack could park their machine for Grin to look over and try to fix. There were some tools in it, nothing high-grade or new but most of the machines he worked with did not require fine or careful work. A hammer usually got the job done.

But this machine, this pickup, was a canvas he could paint on only once. And if he botched it he would forever regret it.

Over the weeks and months that Grin spent looking for his machine he also sought out different parts for his future creation. Enhancements, decorations, weapons. He did not know what he would work with in the end, but it paid to be prepared. With the pickup in his grasp he could now focus on the task before him.

The cabin, where the driver and passenger would sit had to be protected, as best possible. Reinforced plates attached to the sides of the car and the hood would stop at least smaller guns from punching through. The front windshield could be replaced with a metal plate, with two slits to allow the driver and passenger to see beyond. It would restrict visibility but at least the chance of a stray bullet striking one’s brain would be much smaller. The plating protecting the cabin would also in effect protect the engine.

The largest issue was the bed. The rear area of the pickup. Whoever sat in the back would be almost fully exposed from the sides and back. That, however, was part of the design. Grin’s machine wasn’t meant just for combat, but also transporting warriors and loot. A lot of room was necessary for that. However some protection would still be required, and as such more plating around the pickup’s rear would be attached.

This would give the pickup a much more box-like appearance,  but when you wanted to have a machine, and take part in battles what you needed more than looks was protection.

But plating alone would not cut it. Sure, he could have somebody in the back ready to leap out at somebody nearby, or warriors with guns firing from the bed and passenger seat, but smaller guns could only truly wound anybody who was exposed. Any half-decent mechanic would make sure there was at least some protection from bullets. Most weapons the Hyenas could manufacture themselves lacked the punch to go through solid metal plating. They tended to jam, misfire and even break down in the middle of combat.

That said, anything was better than nothing, and Grin’s machine had to be weaponized.

To that end arming the pickup consisted of two things. In the back, mounted and attached to the bed, would be a heavy gun. The sort that made one deaf from just firing it, and leaving a nice hole where it hit. This “cannon” looked like a collection of crudely attached pipes, firing a shell that upon impact exploded. While originally this was meant to be a single-shot weapon Grin had the time, and some ideas, to improve upon it. The the gunner could insert a magazine with a few shells stacked one atop of the other. On the side of the gun was a crank which, when turned would eject the empty casing and drop down the next shell. The invention called for a bit of practise however, since if you cranked too slowly or too quickly the shell could jam.

Despite the impractical design it was still a superior solution to hand-loading a shell at a time. Especially if you were standing in the back of a pickup, with the machine jumping up and down, and the only stable thing keeping you down on your paws was the cannon you held onto.

On the front, a hood-attached pipe gun. Much like the cannon in the back it was of crude, and simple design. Still it was meant to deliver a hail of bullets to scare the enemy, rather than actually kill them. The passenger would have control of this, but as there was a big metal plate instead of a windshield the gunner could only adjust his aim slightly. Lack of accuracy, and in its place plenty of crude firepower.

That, was the plan. But as work began he soon received unexpected visitors.

It was late at night, and amidst his hammering of a metal plate into place he heard an even louder thud at the wall of his workshop. Grin, surprised, looked to the entrance and found some of Mask’s men, which a massive crate laying between them.

The Boss said you will need this.” Said one of the warriors. Grin put away his tools and approached the crate. It was massive, but what was surprising was the state of the wood itself. It seemed to be in pristine, fresh condition. As if somebody found a small forest, cut it down to make the crate, just to bring it here. Did Mask find another mysterious container? If not, where did this come from?

The writing upon the crate did not say much. They were labels of some craftsman that Grin was not familiar with.

What is it?” the mechanic asked.

Dunno, but the boss said to get it mounted on yer machine. And no yippin’ er yappin’. You do as yer told.”

Grin seemed puzzled. He expected Mask to have specific plans for him, and his machine, but what was in the crate was beyond him. The warriors dispersed and with crowbar in hand Grin pried open the delivery.

The first thing he saw was a lot of hay, old grass. Then he saw a pipe, no, a barrel. A barrel that was part of an ancient gun, that Grin imagined was not intended for any ordinary Machine. Around it were its shells, differently colored, all made by non-hyena hands.

It was a cannon, unlike any the mechanic has ever seen. It reminded Grin of some of the ancient pictures some found. Large cannons mounted atop of machines called tanks. This one was perhaps not as large as what he saw on the tank pictures, but it was still of impressive size.

The problem was indeed the size. Grin tried to lift it up out of the crate and he made a better effort pushing the crate away than getting the weapon out. Where would he mount this monstrosity? And why did Mask choose Grin’s machine to bear it? He had to make room for the shells, the whole barrel, and the loading mechanism. Would he even manage to add some manner of aiming mechanism?

It was not a simple puzzle. In fact Grin was worried that this cannon would make his machine incapable of driving.

After finally dragging the crate into his workshop the Hyena paced around the cannon. Others who peaked within and saw the Mechanic ripping his hair and fur out in frustration found the sight absolutely stunning, and hilarious.

It was not until dawn that Grin found a solution. A solution so mad and strange it had to work. An unorthodox design, one which most Hyenas would perhaps find blasphemous, but there simply seemed no other way.

Even finding a name for his creation seemed difficult. But eventually, after much deliberation, Grin’s masterpiece was named the “Rearguard”.


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Posted August 2, 2017 by ABielski in category "Short Story

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