Alright. I have Bright Lights: Part IV ready and it follows below.
I am trying to go through and edit as fast as I can. But I find myself changing stuff as I go, so it is taking a bit longer than I thought it would. However, most of the changes made, either corrected spelling or grammar for the most part. A number of other changes made helped the story flow better.
So here is Part IV. Part V will be posted within the next day.
Bright Lights: Part IV
Almost as though cued by our arrival, the door to the camper opened and a tech, complete in lab coat stepped out; short gentleman, with sandy blonde hair starting to thin in front. Totally absorbed in the device he was carrying, he almost walked right past Gen. Corson and me. Stopping suddenly, right in front of us, looking surprised, he collected himself and greeted the General.
"General. I'd forgotten you would be here with company. Forgive me for not being more cordial."
"Quite all right, Dr. Willems. Please meet Detective Frankin, she is part of the operation here."
"Ms. Frankin," Dr. Willems said with a slight bow, as he extended his hand, "or, should I call you Detective?"
"Whichever you are most comfortable with, Doctor." Frankin said, as she accepted the Doctors hand. She was pleasantly surprised by a "proper" handshake from the Doctor. So few men know how to pull it off that she was used to the more "masculine" version. "Doc" earned points in her book right off the bat. It showed in the smile that she offered him along with the handshake. Ah, so few gentlemen these days, Franklin thought to herself.
"Ms. Frankin then, my pleasure. Glad to have you on board. Now, tell me, how much do you know about lasers?"
"They make good gun sights", Frankin said. She knew a bit more than that, but decided to let the Doc teach her what he wanted her to know.
Dr. Willems head dropped a little, and let a sigh escape his lips. "OK, lets start with the basics and we'll go from there", he said, as he led Frankin and Corson to a nearby table.
"As you probably know, 'laser' stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. In lay-mans terms, a bright light concentrated to a single tight beam. That is what your 'gun sight' does."
"Now, for a laser that is little more than a novelty, you need more power, and a VERY bright light. Or, a modified application to produce the same effect. That is what we have here." He said, patting one of the "flame-throwers" on the table.
"With the research accomplished by Dr. Baser, and his assistant, Mr. Lassert, we now have a high powered laser without all the cumbersome support equipment their predecessors required. It is the 'Bassert-AG'. The combination of the two researchers, Baser and Lassert, and what it is, an aggregation gun."
"What they did was, combine a chemical reaction light source, with the introduction of exotic gasses, to produce a low power, high output, laser."
Dr. Willems opened an access plate on the gun to show both of them the "working" part of the gun. Much of the insides were covered and sealed. Part of the "hollow" end of the "rod" they picked up earlier, was visible. There was a black band with very small lines going to it, near the base.
"The main, or 'solid' part of the rod is inside an elliptical reflector. The chemical flash lamp is within the reflector area. Total coverage to the rod, no hot, or cool spot."
"Now, as the 'laser' enters the 'hollow' part of the assembly. This band here", he points to the visible band with the lines going to it, "is where the mixture of exotics is injected. The exotics are carried down the tube and excited as they go. They are excited, and accelerated toward the speed of the light. Exiting the tube is a concentrated beam of light wave and particle. A PLASMA beam, if you will."
"The down sides are, the power level on this small a scale, is not adjustable, for safety reasons. The other is that, since particles greater than sub-atomic are used, they are influenced greatly by the laws of physics. In short, they slow down and lose their excited state quickly. After approximately forty-five meters, you have a 'gun sight'."
Dr. Willems picked up one of the guns and its support pack, the size of a school backpack, and headed towards the target lines. Setting the pack on the ground and setting the gun in a cradle, he hung a standard "bulls-eye" target on one of the clips, and sent it across the valley. When the line readout showed sixty meters, he stopped the reel.
Turning to them, he said, "Use the 'scopes to look at the target. When I am ready to fire, I'll tell you. It will be a quick spot on the target, so look sharply."
When they had the target sighted in, they let Dr. Willems know. A second later, Dr. Willems said, "Mark."
A little red spot flashed on the target, as the gun made a soft "chuff" sound. A small curl of smoke rose from the mark. Not very impressive Frankin thought. The look on the generals' face seemed to mirror hers.
Dr. Willems moved the target to the forty-meter range and told them to prepare. When they were set, Dr. Willems again said, "Mark."
This time, no red spot appeared as the gun "chuffed" again. Instead, there was a hole about a half-inch wide in the target. That is a bit closer, Frankin mused.
Dr. Willem retrieved the target and handed it to Frankin. While she was admiring the neat hole in the paper, Dr. Willem hung another target. This one was about a quarter inch thick, and heavy. Dr. Willem then sent this one out about twenty meters. He handed both of them shooter earmuffs. "Better put these on", was all he said, donning a pair himself.
Once everyone was set, he pointed to the target. Frankin and the general sighted in on the target when Dr. Willem tapped them on the shoulders and shook his head. He pointed to his eyes, then to the target, indicating they didn't need the scopes. Another half-inch hole appeared in this target and they heard a slight ringing sound through the muffs.
Dr. Willem motioned them to take off the muffs and said, "The first shots were without the gases. This one will be with the gases."
After they all had replaced their muffs, Dr. Willem made an adjustment on the gun, then signaled he was ready to fire again. The hole that appeared this time was about the size of a golf ball, and the target swayed noticeably. The metallic ringing sound was plainly audible through the muffs this time.
Dr. Willems brought the target in for inspection. Frankin and the general, wearing the muffs around their necks, were visibly impressed by the size of the hole, and how clean the edges were.
"What metal is this, Dr." Frankin asked.
"Tungsten" the Doctor replied. "The beam cuts through it cleanly, don't you think?"
"Yes. Yes it does." Frankin was more impressed with each pull of the trigger. She couldn't help thinking what would they be shown next.
As if reading her mind, the Doctor asked them to send the target back out. Once in position, Dr. Willems said, "that weapon has been tuned for the project. This one", holding up a different gun, "has a wider focal point. It sends the pulse out more like a shotgun. Ear muffs, please."
Once again, after everyone was ready, the Doctor motioned he was going to fire.
This time, the target flashed pink as it crumpled in on itself, and went flying off across the valley. The destruction of the target was clearly audible even with the muffs on. Uniformed men were already on route to the destroyed piece of metal by the time it came to rest some hundred plus meters out.
"The tuning of the guns is necessary to bring the beam into focus for the job. The guns are, like I said, more like a shotgun. They can be 'choked' like a shotgun for maximum range and power. The first one is 'tuned', this one isn't, yet."
"You also noticed, that the farther away the target gets, the less damage is done to it. The beam losses power as it travels. The more interference it encounters, the faster it degrades. When the gasses are introduced, they interfere immediately. Therefore, the range is limited by the amount of power available in the initial 'flash'. Focusing the beam is necessary to achieve the maximum range and stopping potential."
"After all, making this mobile puts weight constraints on the system. If you are expected to wear, and carry this, something has to give."
Frankin was looking at the 'flame-thrower' and its accessory backpack, wondering about how easy it was going to be wearing one of those and still looking inconspicuous. The picture wasn't forming and she was about to say something about it when the Doctor spoke up again.
"Now, you won't be using these", he said, pointing at the large units. "You and your crew will be using a smaller version." He held up a unit she hadn't noticed earlier. It looked like an automotive timing light with hoses and cables running to a small shoulder pack, not much bigger than a large purse.
"Here, try this on for size", the Doctor said. He helped her get the pack situated on her back, adjusted the straps and made sure the hoses and cables were clear of any obstructions. Wearing a shoulder holster didn't make the job any easier for either of them. The Doctor was working the straps to get a comfortable fit around things, and was touching areas that most men and a few women would lose a hand for touching.
Looking up, Frankin could see General Corson getting great pleasure out of her discomfort, consternation and frustration over getting the pack properly adjusted. Looking at the general, Frankin was thinking what her first target should be once this thing is finally on.
The Doc decided it was a fit after a few last tugs at the straps. "How does it feel? Not digging in anywhere, is it?"
"No, no. It's fine", she said, trying to evade any more handling. Then looked back at the general in time to see the last remnants of a smile slide from his face. Definitely my first target, she thought with venom dripping off every word.
The Doctor turned her around and looked at her sharply. No playfulness in his eyes or the tone of his voice. "Now, some things you need to know about this."
"First of all, there is only a limited supply of materials available to you. You have enough fuel for the 'flash lamp' to be fired fifteen times, that’s all. Don't waste it."
"The gasses are good for ten rounds. With luck, you'll need them. At closer ranges, the laser by itself should do the job. But we are talking CLOSE here, under 5 meters. With as fast as they move, that's too close in my opinion."
"Last, the exhaust gasses from the 'flash lamp', go down and out the handle of the gun. Where you would normally load a new clip into, that's where the exhaust comes out. It will be very hot, if you lean the butt of the gun against something when you fire, be prepared for it to get burned. So be careful."
"Now, let me fill you in on the basics of how to operate the gun." The Doctor then proceeded to show, explain, and answer all questions Frankin had.
It took a while, and during which, the general hung on every word as well. Apparently, the general was in need of an education also. OK, he just went up a few notches. It showed her he wasn't a typical "know-it-all" leader. He was willing to learn and not afraid to admit he needed to.
When the Doctor was done, he turned her loose on the firing range to practice. He also brought out another "pistol" version for the general. The detective and the general stood side by side, learning both types of weapons, in preparation to meet a mutual enemy. They were more alike, than different, at that point.