It was a clear morning about halfway to Lisbon....
When Liam had nothing to do, he would head down to the ship's armory and work with Bobby Ramirez, the quartermaster. The armory was, besides the main cargo hold, the engine room, and the main control center, the largest room on the ship. There were crates of ammunition and guns of all kinds. Since nobody was making new guns anymore, the crew of the Holdsworth had to work with whatever they could find and that meant quite a bit of variation. Usually, they would strip guns for parts and do their best to use what they got. They tried their best to standardize as much as possible.
For rifles, they preferred to use 5.56x45mm NATO equipment. This was a smaller bullet and it was not as deadly as the larger 7.62 Kalashnikov rounds found in AK-types, but it was easier to find. And since quite a few of the newer western assault rifles all could port the same M16-type magazines, it simply made sense. Liam's FN SCAR, for instance, used 5.56 ammo and the aforementioned magazines. Other common assault rifles were HK-416s and M4s.
For pistols and submachine guns, they preferred using .45 ACP ammunition. .45 was a big bullet and quite a few guns use it. Its high stopping power meant that it could at least slow a zombie down. A headshot, however, meant an almost certain kill.
Of course, as the years went by, ammunition became harder and harder to come by. Luckily, the crew of the Holdsworth could simply make their own. As often as possible, they recovered shell casings and could use those to reload the ammunition. Since gunpowder was basically universal, they could take that from any kind of cartridge and transfer it. As far as the lead for the bullet itself, they had molds for 5.56x45mm NATO, .45 ACP, .40 S&W, and .308 Winchester. Liam and Ramirez hoped to find more, but Steelewood seemed pretty insistent on monopolizing the ammo business.
Using a crutch, Liam hobbled into the armory and found Ramirez inspecting shell casings. “Hey, Bobby, how's it going?”
Ramirez looked up and smiled, “'Ey, Liam! Hey man! You look like hell! What happened?”
“Monster bit my Achilles tendon,” Liam shrugged.
“You at least shot it, right?”
“I think Emma did.”
“You let your sister kill it for you?” Ramirez laughed. “That's weak, man!”
“Oh, don't give me that crap,” Liam rolled his eyes. “You know my sister.”
“It don't matter, man, she's still your sister!”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Liam sighed. “You got anything that needs to be done?”
“Do I?” Rameriz chuckled. “Yeah, we got lots to do, man, and it's all your fault.”
“Yeah, your fault, pal,” Ramirez pointed his finger. “You and sister's fault. All of your guns need to stripped, cleaned, and oiled. You got seawater and even mud all over 'em, man.”
“Well, what can you do?”
“Keep your guns dry for starters,” Ramirez laughed again. “They're on the table over there.”
“I'll get started on that,” Liam sighed as if he were dreading it, but in actuality, he looked forward to getting his hands dirty. With his pathetic hobble, Liam picked up a maintenance kit and then went over to the table on the far side of the room. All of the guns were already stripped and sitting on a towel to dry. There was Liam's Springfield XD-45 and FN SCAR, and Emma's Taurus PT 24/7 G2, SR-25, and TDI Kriss. Five guns would be plenty of work.
He started with his favorite, the FN SCAR. Using a damp rag, he scrubbed down the weapon's frame. Once that was clean, he oiled a cleaning cloth and got to work on the inner parts. The receiver had a bit of gunk on it, but the inner workings were mostly clean. The concern was really for any damage the saltwater might have caused. Getting the parts oiled up would fix that though. When he got down to the barrel, Liam noticed a problem. He called to Ramirez, “Hey, Bobby, we got any replacement SCAR barrels?”
“Why, what's wrong, man?”
“It's bent,” Liam held up the barrel.
“Yeah, not by much, but it's not straight. Must have happened when I fell.”
“We got a heavy barrel and a CQB,” Ramirez said as he looked into one of the spare parts boxes. “No standards or longs.”
“I guess I'll take the CQB then,” Liam sighed. He had been using an extended barrel, which increased the overall accuracy of the rifle. The CQB would lighten things and make it better for close-range, but Liam did not want things close-quarters. He hated zombies. He wanted them as far away as possible.
“Here you go, man,” Ramirez handed Liam the barrel. “You'll have to move the flash suppressor though; there's not one on the replacement.”
“Yeah, got it,” Liam got to work cleaning the new part, hating every second of it. Because of this change, Liam's SCAR would feel like a brand new rifle. He had been using the same gun for years; it was like a close friend. Imagine giving your best friend a new face. It simply would not be the same. “Dammit, I was so used to the long barrel.”
“Hey, man, just think of it this, you get to have your target more up close and personal! You get to see their hideous, snarling faces before you pop 'em!”
“Yeah, Bobby, that's exactly what I'm trying to avoid,” Liam sighed. “I really, really hate zombies, Bobby, and I want them to stay as far away from me as humanly possible. That's why I kept an ACOG and the long barrel. It meant I could shoot 'em while they were nowhere near me.”
“You scared of them or something?”
“No, it's not that. I just don't like it. I don't like them. I don't like the smell, I don't like the way they look, I don't like that they used to be people, I don't like- you know what? Forget it. We'll get an extended barrel soon and I'll be happy.”
“Look, man, If you hate 'em so much, how come you go out there all the time?”
“Because I have to. It's what I'm built for, it's what I'm good at, and it's what I'm expected to do. It's what's right. If people as damn good at it as I am quit, then-”
“Then we're all screwed, man, I get it,” Ramirez said. “You ever thought about trying something else? Maybe you could let me go out there and you could stay here and fix guns.”
“You know, I'd like nothing more,” Liam screwed and snapped the barrel. “But, let's face it, you're the worst shot in the history of firearms.”
Ramirez laughed, “You got that right. I can fix these things and I can make 'em work and I can clean 'em, but man, I cannot shoot 'em. It's amazing. It's like, I can build a perfect woman but I can't screw her!”
The door suddenly opened and Hank walked through, whistling Molly Saint George. He stopped whistling and said, “Hey, Bobby, how you doin'?”
“Doin' okay, capitan,” Ramirez said. “Just gettin' all these guns and bullets working.”
“Keep up the good work, Bobby,” Hank gave him that captainly smile. He took a good look around and then saw Liam in the corner. “Ah, Liam!”
“Hey, dad,” Liam sighed.
His father approached him and then perked up, “Ah, CQB barrel! Great choice!”