On Patrol: Spit and Prayers

I wasn’t much of an engineer, but even I could see the whole rotary feed assembly was jammed shut with a mess of wet powder. Muttering curses under my breath, I yelled into the speaking tube that the gun was going offline and yanked the disconnect lever. Working quickly, I scraped the worst of it out from around the biggest gears and turned to the two loaders behind me.

“You two, go back to manual loading. I want a two-thirds powder charge and heavily greased shot going in the feed tray – where’s that grease? Start the gun up again, too, we need the kinema.”

Esmil reappeared at the top of the ladder and handed down a trio of grease guns. I took mine and liberally coated the whole thing in oil while they got to work. Haltingly, with a screech of gears grinding through grit, the autoloader spread the grease along the cleared gear paths.

I breathed out in relief when valve pressure finally overcame gear resistance and it started moving again, but not as much as Esmil or the rest of the gunnery team.

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