Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 434

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"What I want is to install this looking glass onto the new rifle to use it to aim. We can inscribe a cross on the lens. When the sniper uses the gun, he can line the centre of the cross up with his target and fire to shoot a target three to four hundred metres away. This isn't going to be a standard-issue rifle. It's a sniper rifle. Pick the best sharpshooters among the troops and train them to use these sniper rifles to shoot enemy commanders on the battlefield to sow chaos in enemy ranks."

Claude wiped some sweat off his forehead. He regretted learning how to code computer applications in his past life instead of picking up some kind of engineering or chemical profession. With the new rifles and a telescope, Claude wanted to see whether it would be possible to put the two together to make a sniper rifle. However, he couldn't really describe what made a sniper rifle special to Angelina and Sonia. They only managed to gain some mutual understanding after much difficulty communicating their thoughts.

"Just tell us you want to increase the accurate firing range of the new rifles to around 400 metres while making sure the shot still has power then. Perhaps we can increase the length of the cartridges so more gunpowder can be stored. At the end of the day, you're trying to say that the naked eye can't aim too far away, so you need a telescope to help with the aiming, right?" Sonia complained. "Is there anything else we need to pay attention to?"

Claude smiled apologetically. "Perhaps you can try making the barrel longer and making new cartridges for this express purpose to ensure it's just as powerful shooting further. Also, you can try changing the rifling inside the barrel into a spiral pattern to see if you can increase the stability and range of the projectile. That's all I can think of for now. You'll mainly have to count on your experiments.

"Time's a little short, dear, so I'm sorry to have to rush you like this. We don't have a choice and the Shiksans are coming at us with full force. They plan to storm the whole theatre and this will be a trial for our survival. We have to think of ways to increase our chances. In the mountains, one good sniper is as good as, or even better, than a cannon. They're definitely far more threatening. A few hidden snipers will definitely be nothing short of the god of death paying the enemies personal visits."

While Claude sounded relaxed during the meeting with the other officers and made them think their enemies could easily be blasted away, he knew that this wouldn't be an easy fight. Apart from spending new year's eve with his family at home, he used all of his time in a work frenzy.

The most crucial thing was to move Angelina's lab from the farmstead to the arms factory in Vebator. Sonia was now the supervisor of the factory and busy with the new production lines for the rifles. The factory needed to establish two new production lines, hire up to three thousand new employees, and so on. Sonia was far too busy and couldn't afford to travel to and fro, let alone stay in the lab to work on her experiments.

The experimentation of the new rifle, however, couldn't happen without Sonia's experience and guidance to Angelina. So, Claude decided to move her lab to the arms factory. Myjack would be helping with the defence of the factory with Tribe 131 anyways, so the couple could stay together. After all, their mother had complained about Angelina not giving her a grandchild despite being married for years.

Apart from the manufacture of new rifles, new breakthroughs for a new weapon took place in the factory. They now had mines. Angelina and Sonia took only three to four days to complete them. There were two varieties of mines, one pressure activated, which could be buried into the ground, waiting to be stepped on, and the other line activated. Basically, it was a line-trap mine. Once someone catches their leg on the line, the mine would blow up.

Claude had wanted to research water mines and bouncing mines. The former could cause quite a lot of trouble for the enemy fleets as they're deploying their soldiers onshore. However, Claude couldn't figure out how those metal-encased mines could float on the water, nor was he aware of the mechanism that caused them to explode. Bouncing mines were one of the most powerful anti-personnel mines. Claude had read in forums that they would shoot up into the air upon being triggered before exploding and sending the ball bearings inside in a 30-metre radius and causing great damage. But he didn't know how they were made. Even with Angelina's array, he didn't know where to start.

The third new weapon they made was the sniper rifle. With the new rifles as a base, Claude believed sniper rifles could be easily made. It wasn't like he needed modern sniper rifles that could shoot accurately up to a kilometre in the first place. All he wanted was a rifle that could shoot up to 400 metres accurately. He trusted that Sonia and his sister wouldn't disappoint him and be able to make it in a short time.

Claude was going to form a sniping clan in Thundercrash for his brother to command. It would be considered a special unit in these times. When the conditions were right, he wanted to pick some elite soldiers to form a proper special unit for assassination or infiltration missions. Perhaps in the decades or centuries to come, he would be crowned the father of special operations units or something.

It was now the 3rd month of Year 593. Once the 4th month came, Shiks' standing corps would arrive in Cape Loducus, though they didn't know how many. The theatre's informants sent a few eagle messages reporting that the Shiksan advance party had arrived at Cape Loducus and started hiring people to build camps and warehouses.

It was said that the Fochsian people and officials had an unspoken agreement to triple food costs and manpower costs. Even the informants sent there had no choice but to work for Shiks on their construction projects to earn enough to survive. They complained in their eagle messages that their small salary couldn't even get them enough beef to feed their eagles.

Those informants were sent by the wild-bull company to Cape Loducus with the excuse of starting a branch of the company there to negotiate the deal of the 30 thousand barrels of low-alcohol wheat-ale. The informants mentioned that the citizens of the colony had fixed rations of sufficient necessities to survive, so they weren't affected by the price hike. The rest of the foreigners were all dragged down by Shiks and had no choice but to buy food at the increased price.

They now regretted selling the ale they imported for too low a price. The Shiksans were drinking them in lieu of water. In the city, plain water cost more than wheat ale and had to be boiled, so the charcoal added to the cost. Fortunately, Shiks made orders for 50 thousand more barrels. After further negotiations, the deal was concluded with a 30 percent increase in price. Perhaps even the Shiksans were shocked by the food prices in the city, so wheat ale naturally became the cheap and delicious option for them.

Apart from complaining about the price hike and ale trade, the informants also offered a suggestion. After the advance party reached Cape Loducus late last year, they started hiring youths to construct their camps and warehouses. So far, the warehouse area was mostly complete and goods were constantly shipped there from the western coast and the other colonies nearby. They were going to stockpile thousands of tonnes of food and other necessities.

The informants had gotten to know some members of the advance party through drinks and heard them complain about the mission Majid III gave them, that was to stockpile food in preparation for the main force's arrival. They had thought it would be an easy task to complete, only to find that the food stores in the local cities were far smaller than they had imagined. The reason behind that was actually rather complicated.

The colonies of the western coast had maintained peace for the past three decades. There were conflicts, but most of them were small skirmishes that were solved after negotiations. There was also no natural disasters plaguing the area, so the food situation in those colonies was rather stable and they only had to produce enough to satisfy domestic demand. Many farm owners preferred to plant products that could be shipped to the various nations of Freia for profit instead.

The advance party Shiks sent was ordered by Majid III to purchase a million pushirs, or tonnes, of food. When they arrived, they discovered that the food stores in all of the colonies on the western coast didn't even have that much combined. So, they had no choice but to order food produced next year in advance for double or triple the market price, which prompted the farm owners to switch their main crop to food crop. They complained about how rough food like potatoes could now sell for the price of flour.

The informants discovered that the advance party already had lots of food and necessities stocked up in the warehouses they just built. So, they suggested that they ought to act first and sneak into the warehouses to set them on fire, showing the Shiks who's boss before the battle even began.

The theatre quickly refused that suggestion. The lease agreement between Shiks and Fochs still hadn't been put into effect and Cape Loducus was still under Fochsian control. A fire would definitely incite an investigation by Fochs. Once the theatre was discovered to have committed the act, they would press the theatre for reparations.

It wasn't that the theatre was afraid of offending Fochs. They simply didn't have a need to add them to their list of troubles. Since civil war broke out in the Aueran mainland, Aueras, once regarded as a powerful nation in Eastern Freia, was now seen as a target to be picked on. Had it not been for the theatre's record of winning all three wars they were in, the other nations would probably have targeted the colonies by now.

If Stellin X was still alive, the civil war wouldn't have broken out, and Fochs wouldn't need to lease their colony to Shiks in the first place. All their nation had was four naval fleets. Their ground forces were complete and utter trash compared to their naval forces. But now, of Aueras' two fleets, Fearless had been eliminated and Storm was now aligned with the traitorous first prince. The Aueran mainland and colonies had no naval defence at all. All they could do was fortify their coasts to guard against threats from the sea.

The lease between Shiks and Fochs would only come into effect following the arrival of the first batch of Shiksan troops. After that, within the next five years, apart from the citizens of the cape city, every other settler in the colony would be under Shiksan rule. Even if the theatre sent units into Cape Loducus and badly defeated the Shiksan troops, the Fochsians would merely cheer from their cities. They took a neutral position in the conflict and refused to participate in the war.

There were many chances in the future to burn the warehouses. Doing so now would only raise enemy awareness further and cause them to increase security, making it more difficult for future surprise attacks.

According to Bolonik, Thundercrash should immediately switch out their weapons for the new rifles produced by the arms factory to increase their combat prowess, but Claude refused to go along with that. He insisted the new rifles should be evenly distributed among both corps. The strongest units in either corps should be given priority. He said that they were going to fight in the mountains defensively, so they had to have good coordination between attacking and defending units.

The two corps would switch their arms out tribe by tribe. The first tribe of Monolith to be assigned new weapons, during their live training, had successfully held off an attack by two lines from their fortifications. Later sandtable simulations show that only the heavy bombardment from a whole folk could cause them to lose their strongholds.

The simulations also firmed the resolve of many officers in headquarters. They would be fighting in the mountains, so they couldn't continue training on flatlands. The enemy wouldn't be able to use flanking or pincer tactics and had to take one stronghold after another to ensure they had a safe path forward.

Claude had Myjack, Moriad, and Berklin deal with the training of various units of the corps while he weaselled into the arms factory to work on new weapons with Sonia and Angelina in an effort to find the next miracle they could use in the upcoming war. Right before research on the sniper rifle was complete, Claude received an urgent letter from headquarters, as marked by the three eagle feathers on it. It said that the nikancha nation had sent a large ambassador band to the theatre to request for aid.

It seemed that the nikancha nation had proof that the Shiksans would be coming to the western coast. They were probably terrified by the 600 thousand troops incoming troops.

As far as the theatre was aware, the nikancha nation didn't have a proper national military. Each of their six major tribes had a force of about ten thousand, and the 20 plus minor tribes had forces numbering from three to five thousand. The tribes bellow even vassals had even smaller units within the hundreds. Those forces referred to only nikancha youths that were trained in preliminary musket use, not those who waved blades about and used bows and arrows.

It was apparent the nikancha nation did not lack clear minds. They were well aware that the forces of their tribes alone wouldn't be enough for them to hold off the Shiksan attacks. They didn't have cannons, and the strongest weapons they had were the Shiksan arms they purchased from the theatre. Even though their arms matched their enemy's, the enemy was well trained and better armed overall, not to mention their large numbers and artillery support. The nikancha forces had only received short-term training and they definitely weren't the Shiksans' match.

So, they placed their hopes in the theatre. They knew that they wouldn't fare well under Shiksan rule. Given their stubborn personality, they would never be willing to serve as Shiksan slaves. The band of ambassadors comprised half of the elders and chiefs of the six major tribes. They hoped to negotiate with the theatre for military aid.

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