Athala walked into the laboratory not long after she was summoned and sought Klaus out. He looked different with native clothes on. Not bad at all. Still far too pale though, and the lack of horns on his head took some getting used to.
"There she is!" he said as she walked in. "This Eternium stuff... you can imbue guns with it, right? I want to do that with my pistol, here." He was fiddling with a separate piece to be attached later. It was some kind of compression device with a dial for different settings. It also, was unusual, as the device was not native to this world. He attached a thick tube to the end of the pistol, lengthening it from a snub-nose.
She sided up with him, surveying his work. “You’ve put a lot of thought into this…” She withdrew her hands though she wished to touch the various devices that he had assembled during his research. “Yes, you can indeed imbue guns, we’ve done this ourselves, though it’s tricky to control. If you find a way around the kinks, I’m sure we can use your findings. What is that?” She motioned to the compression device.
"With this, I can adjust what kind of shot comes out. Since there are no bullets here, I will be needing to imbue my pistol with Eternium. Setting one is just a single shot, tight focus. Setting two, well, I have to experiment with this more after it's imbued, but the idea is to fire a burst shot to get multiple targets at medium range. Setting three is for rapid fire." As he thought about it, he had another idea. He flipped the pistol over to open the magazine. No bullets... Depending on how much space the containment chamber for the Eternium took up, he would probably need to install some kind of cooling mechanism. He stroked his chin pensively.
She bit her lip instead of asking about bullets, but figured that they were a part of the damage to his gun. She was thinking along the same lines as he as he flipped the gun. “You might want to try a coolant system if you want to fire that many repetitive shots from such a small device. I will provide you with one of our rifles. The system is inefficient but our rifles are good for a long range shot. Not many dwellers get bold after seeing one of their own fall to one of our snipers.”
“To examine the system,” she explained her point. “Are those weapons common from your planet?” She motioned to it. “I’d like to see it fire,” she tilted her head admiringly. She gnawed on her lip. “And what are bullets?”
"Of course, of course," he replied. "Rifles? Sure, but no Eternium. Bullets are physical projectiles loaded into a chamber in the gun as ammunition. Once we get this thing imbued, I'll show you what it can do."
"Please do. I don't know what the imbuement process takes." He looked her up and down surreptitiously. Athala was a looker, for a young woman. He'd been around a while; was almost forty. His age was hard to tell, though, the way he looked. He lest the gun in her hand to let her inspect his modifications and sat back to wait for the techs to show up.
“I’ll have to go get them,” she admitted, but took the gun, turning it this way and that as she squinted at the new parts, having examined it several times before in its previous state. She would ask him more about it later and handed it back to him with a small smile. “Give me a few minutes.”
With that she strode away and walked out of the testing area, rounding up the proper personnel and scooped up one of the latest models of the rifle that they were assembling, to their dismay.
“That’s not finished yet,” one protested, reaching out to replace it on the examination table.
“I don’t mean to fire it, I mean to dismantle it,” she said coolly. This dismayed the man even more. She shrugged it off. “The Supreme Guardian said to give this outworlder whatever he desires, and he desires to assemble a weapon…”
That perked them up. She returned and began to take the external parts off of the Eternium rifle to get at the coolant chamber, standing beside Faust.
“Instruct them on how they can help you while I get this coolant system exposed for your examination. They will help to explain it, I don’t know enough about it.”
“Careful with that, it’s expensive!” The first man protested.
She glared, setting the parts down as if they were made of glass. “Expense is of no consequence when done in the name of technological advancement, don’t you agree?”
“Well… yes…” He eyed her.
“This man is going to help us,” she raised her palm to motion to Faust. “Be a bit cooperative…” she chided.
"Ahem!" He cleared his throat, turning to the techs. "See that pistol?" he pointed at the gun on the table without looking. "I need you guys to do whatever you do to imbue it with Eternium. And I need to watch you do it, to maintain the operability of the weapon." And, he thought to himself, to learn their techniques. He was nothing if not an adept student, and this was the kind of thing that might one day save his life. And if he ever made it home... he might well make a fortune off the patents.
The technicians rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
Athan walked out on the landing pad, his brow dark with frustration, his lip curled with distaste. He looked quite agitated. Athan edged about as Athala’s eyes moved towards him. He cleared his throat.
“Athala…” He straightened. “Guardian, I need to speak with you.”
“Not now,” she motioned him away, I’m busy.”
He strode up to her, placing a hand hard on her shoulder. “This is important!”
She carefully set the device down and rounded about, hackles raised. “I said I was busy!” She looked over at Faust then back to Athan. She sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose with my fingers. “Fine. What is it?”
Athan eyed the rest and jerked his head to the side a few times to indicate that they must speak privately.
Athala scowled deeply, crossing her arms. “Please, excuse me.” She muttered as she walked aside, shrugging Athan off as he tried to lead her by the arm.
She listened to Athan with an increased expression of annoyance and the two began to argue openly, though they tried to keep their tones quiet. Faust may catch snatches of it, regarding the dwellers and a shipment gone awry.
Athala’s voice rose in pitch. “… your job, remember?!”
“… while you’re babysitting…” Athan gestured towards Faust. “… in the city!”
“What?!” She was spitting mad, and then hushed herself after a thought. They continued. Athan threw up his hands and stalked off.
“Incompetent idiot!” She called after him. “Bah!” Athala stalked back up to the table, resuming her work with agitation, accidentally snapping a piece of the casing off rather than sliding it as it was meant to be. She slapped the piece down. More than one technician glared at her.
“Sorry…” she stepped away, setting everything down. “Faust, it’s exposed, for your examination…”
She had been scowling, her arms crossed, and she looked up at him, caught off guard at his offer of assistance. She motioned him aside, not wanting the scientists to hear sensitive information. But Faust was not a citizen who might panic, so she felt it was safe to inform him of what was going on while he was here.
“The dwellers have breached the city. They’ve managed to infiltrate our defenses, there were too many of them. We sent a gesture of goodwill but apparently that wasn’t enough. They could be anywhere. Athan,” she motioned in agitation towards the door, “like an idiot thought that he and a few policemen could handle the situation but it only escalated. Men were killed.”