Jonnie, Foxy and Angus reach the base's arsenal, revealing "Boxes! Cases! Endless rows of them!" There's encyclopedias of ordnance, bazookas (which apparently Angus recognizes from somewhere), and assorted weapons and wargear to equip a thousand men. The book they find mentions what Hubbard continues to refer to as the "sub-Thompson," and Angus concludes that the truckload of the guns they recovered earlier was being shipped to the academy for the cadets to practice with, since they were already out-of-date "relics" when the apocalypse happened.
So apparently the military trains its soldiers with obsolete weapons. Interesting. I guess it's an incentive to graduate? "Stick through your training and you can use a real gun," or something.
Fearless Leader is leery about using such outdated guns against an alien empire, but then Angus finds a bunch of grease-preserved Mark 50 assault rifles (which is not a real gun, as far as I can tell). Angus assures Jonnie that these, "the last thing they issued," can be cleaned up so they purr. Jonnie is impressed by the sleek weapon, which, a few decades less obsolete than the Thompson, will surely prove of great use.
But the ammo for them is ruined, since the boxes weren't airtight. "The cardboard dividers were decayed and stained. The brass was okay and the bullet clean, but the primer at the bottom told its tale. The ammunition was dud."
Oookay. In an underground stronghold's arsenal are boxes of assault rifles, sealed with some super grease that renders them immune to the passage of time. Obviously the base's crew was planning on... I'm not sure. How long were they intending to hold out down there? Did they have huge food stores, too? Were they going to repopulate the Earth? If not, wouldn't coating your weapons in preservative gunk be a liability if you were attacked and needed them in a hurry?
And why are the boxes of ammo stored for the exquisitely-preserved weapons not airtight? Why not coat the ammo clips in grease too? What, you want the gun to last a thousand years, but you don't want to shoot it? And why did the ammo they found in the Thompson truck work when the stuff in the bunker doesn't?!
This may be my favorite part of the book, and it still hurts.
Then "pay dirt" (looks like Jonnie picked up some mining slang), in the form of boxes of lead coverings for handling radioactive materials. After this latest find Jonnie's team goes back topside for lunch and to refill their air supplies, where they hear Dunneldeen report in about finding safes promising "Top Secret Nuclear" and "Classified Personnel Only, Manuals." An explosives team goes down to secure the goods, and suddenly Jonnie and his barbarians have everything they need to know about using nuclear weapons.
"Now we've got everything but the nuclear devices," said Robert the Fox.
"Yes," said Jonnie. "You can't shoot with papers!"
...Good to know, Jonnie. Thanks for that.
Back to Chapter Two