"Eliza, do you think you could rig up something bright, like for example, a flashbang grenade times 1000? If we could start the battle with a distraction and give myself some sort of view on the field, I can run overwatch and pick people off during the fight, then hunt for our HVT Mark. Also, do we have any sort of radio or communications, how do y'all communicate during fights nowadays?"
"Of course we have radios," said Stab-happy Stav-goon.
"Yeah, but they don't work too good 'cept for close range." Wheeler gnawed off another chunk of jerky and looked at Eliza with expectant curiosity, "How long's it gonna take you, Eliza?"
Eliza pondered. A pinpoint of pain was starting deep behind her nose in her sinuses. She wished there was time for a nap. "I need Nela's truck. And the rifle." She pointed at the fraying rope to her right. "I'll be in the shop. Use the bell."
As Wheeler, Chris, and Stab-happy Stav-goon conferred about who would run which errand, Eliza retreated to her shop. The smell of wood shavings and biofuel welcomed her. It was too dark to see, but the shop was home, and she made her way confidently to the small generator next to the support pillar in the middle. With a rumble and a pop, two halogen work lights came to life in the rafters, casting harsh shadows and yellow light across the dirt and stained concrete slab that formed her floor.
Years back, Eliza had accidentally discovered that some metals burn, not melt. Ever since she checked filings to see if they would burn before deeming metal scrap safe to use for projects. Behind the shop was a collection of bicycle frames, rims, water heater rods, and a twisted steering column from an old wreck that burned painfully bright and dangerous. She'd never had a use for them before, but tonight seemed like the perfect opportunity.
She filled an old bag with coal from one of the bins along the back wall and dumped a collection of sprockets and roller chains out of the bottom of a cut-off steel drum. Tomorrow she'd find a new home for them. The coal and her propane torch went into the drum. Eliza looked over the contents of her tool belt and cast her eyes around the shop for anything she might be missing. Ties for the scrap. After digging through the lower cabinets of her work desk on hands and knees for a few minutes, she added a packet of looped end wire shafts salvaged from some fishing store to the drum, and lugged it outside to the gate.
She hauled three wheelbarrows full of scrap from her junk pile to the gate before she heard Nela's truck choking its way up the hill from town. Time to move then. She added a few bricks and cinderblocks to the wheelbarrow alongside the steering column and the water heater rods that weren't brittle enough to snap.
Out front, the bell clanked impatiently. "Eliza?"
With a grunt she lifted the wheelbarrow and rolled towards the front of the yard. Chris was standing inside the gate holding Stav's sniper rifle.
Eliza dropped the wheelbarrow at the gate and waved her hand over the pile of scrap and steel drum. "In the truck."
Before either of them responded, she lifted the rifle out of Chris's hands, and walked back to the shop. Guns were not particularly interesting to her, but plenty of them crossed her workbench. Most of them just needed a good cleaning and a little WD-40.
Eliza set the gun down on her work table and pulled up her stool. The gun was old, but clean of dirt and rust. She checked to make sure the chamber was empty and then pulled on the bolt. It didn't budge. An experimental wiggle failed to loosen it, so she removed the scope and lifted out the bolt. She unscrewed the shroud from the body and the extractor clattered across her table onto the floor. The problem was immediately obvious; some fool had failed to properly compress the retainer collar, which was now facing the wrong way around the bolt action.
After recovering the extractor, Eliza rotated the collar around the bolt, pinching it tightly in place with a pair of pliers. With a bit of pressure, the extractor slid onto the collar, and she quickly reassembled the rest of the action. A quick check confirmed the bolt slid open and closed with a quiet click. Good.
She turned off the generator, and crossed the yard to Wheeler and Chris, who were sitting on the tail gate of the loaded truck, waiting for her. "Alright. Let's go." She handed Chris the rifle and clamored up into the back of the truck.