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Halloween Fantasy (part 68)

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Victor eventually tracked down Ranger Hancock at his desk in the ranger headquarters where he was finishing off his own report for Sergeant Glasser. Pleasantries were exchanged in the form of a reciprocal ‘hey’ then Victor opened up his notebook on Hancock’s desk.

“Doctor Awolowo mentioned that you asked him to take these pictures.”

Hancock watched as Victor’s finger slid the images of the pipe-gun’s action across the screen.

“That’s right.” He nodded to his own, less flashy, notebook. “I’m still waiting for him to send them to me so I can put them in my report here.”

“I can do that for you.”

Victor copied and sent the files. Hancock dipped his head in appreciation.

“Thanks. Glasser has been on my ass for this.”

“Yeah, they always want the report yesterday. Same shit with us.”

Hancock sat back in his chair looking up at Victor.

“You could have done this back from your office or wherever you guys have nested. So I’m guessing you’re here because you spotted the same thing I did.”

“And you’d be right.” Victor tapped the screen. “Primitive pipe-gun rifle, but with a modern action.”

Ranger Hancock brought up some stock pictures of other pipe-gun rifles used by the native Brits.

“Normally the best these guys can manage is a workable bolt action. Usually not even that. Plenty of lever actions still out there, even seen muzzle loaders. So when I saw this kind of semi-automatic action on that kind of weapon…” He left the statement hanging.

Victor filled in the question.

“You wondered who was supplying modern actions to the locals.”

Hancock paused, appraising the suave, manicured security man perched on the edge of his desk. Hancock was with his sergeant in thinking that the arrival of these big wigs from the Troy organisation put an unneeded and unwelcome strain on the Rangers’ resources. But, they had found that unstable nuclear accident waiting to happen and probably saved a lot of lives by doing so. His own included.

“Yes, and no.” He pointed to the screen. “That action isn’t as modern as you might think. The design requires the use of the kind of steel we no longer use in modern firearms. The action on that weapon is pre-Sirtuin.”

Victor thought about that for a few moments.

“Seven hundred years?” He didn’t sound convinced. “Even with all the care in the world I can’t imagine a delicate mechanism like that surviving seven hundred years, and especially in the hands of people who have been pretty much knocked back to Stone Age.”

“I agree. But then, the action we are looking at isn’t anywhere near seven hundred years old. Only the design. My guess is that this was made any time in the last hundred years or so.”

Victor controlled his expression very carefully. The ranger was watching his face closely, likely looking for a clue as to the Troy organisation’s mission here. He chose he words with care.

“What makes you think that, Ranger?”

Hancock zoomed in on the best picture of the pipe-gun’s incongruous action mechanism.

“Well, mister security man, besides the fact that this design is specific to a weapon only known to have been produced in The Province… Look here.”

Victor followed the man’s finger. Almost erased by the pitting on the once smooth and shiny metal, Victor made out four letters stamped into the steel. ‘SSHS’.

Hancock continued to watch Victor’s face closely.

“That stands for ‘Sons of the Survivors Historical Society’.”

Victor sat up.

“How do you know that?”

Hancock grinned.

“Archaeologists ain’t the only one interested in historical stuff. I collect historical firearms. Not the real ones of course. If any of them were still around it would be highly illegal to possess such a thing. But replicas, like the ones used by those historical recreation groups. They’re made of shit metal so could never fire an actual bullet. Replica’s you can buy mail order, and, wouldn’t you know it, one of the biggest suppliers of replica firearms to collectors and groups is the SSHS”

Victor tilted his head at the screen.

“But that isn’t shit metal. That’s the real thing.”

“Yeah, interesting isn’t it?”

Victor chatted with the Ranger for a few more minutes, then he headed back in the direction of the meeting he had left. As he walked his mind worked on what he had learned.

These ‘Sons of Survivors’ were apparently producing illegal arms, which had somehow ended up in the hands of the warlike tribes of Grande Bretagne. The evidence was circumstantial, but if it was happening then why? Was it still happening? If so, how?

Victor turned away from the meeting room and headed towards the secure communication facility he had set up. There was no reason for the academics to know what he had learned. At least not until he had more evidence one way or the other. Even if it was true, it would be up to his boss to decide if the rest of the team was to be told.

Then there was Ranger Hancock.

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