For Rachel

Nov. 28th, 2008 04:44 am
captainryan: (Forge)
[personal profile] captainryan
He doesn't usually dream about the forge, but here he is pounding away at a lump of iron. It's not quite any forge he's ever been in, but some amalgamation of Suzi's workshop and the Milliways' one. One wall holds swords, spearheads, a shield or two. Another is filled with the shelves of Suzi's space, glinting metals carefully labelled, silver carefully marked. It's dim and shadowy from the forge itself being the only source of light, but that's all the light and more that Ryan needs to see what he's doing. He's not sure what he's making, but that's not the point. The point is striking the metal in a certain place, in a certain way, at a certain temperature. It's hot and he's grimy and sweaty and his muscles are burning from constant movement, but the point is staying in control of the process.

He shoves the piece back into the coals and turns to Rachel.

"What do you need?" He's curious and a shade wary. Rachel has been a benefactor to him, in more ways than one, but she's still immensely powerful. He flexes his hands, easing some of the tightness out of them.

She smiles at him, red-hair flickering with fire more than he's ever seen. The fire behind him flares a little more in response and he eases away from it for comfort's sake. The shadows grow a little sharper even as some areas become more visible. "I want you to make something for me," she says, one hand trailing just above the shelves' contents.

Ryan fidgets a bit, watching her never quite touch them. "Suzi's a better craftsman than I," he tells her a bit cautiously.

Rachel pulls her hand away from the materials to look at him. "It takes more than one person's input for this task. I need you, Ryan."

She needs him? Ryan turns back to the bit in the coals, pulling it out with a set of tongs and bringing it back to the anvil. "Fair enough," he answers before he brings the hammer down again. Rachel waits while he works, glancing over the wall of weapons but spending most of her time peering at the labels on the other wall. The hammer's clanging breaks off and she looks up to see him thrust the metal back into the flames. "What did you want me to make?"

"What are you working on?"

Ryan glances at the metal behind him. "A shield," he decides. "There's still a lot to be done on it."

Rachel looks thoughtful and nods. "I'd like a shield." Ryan arches a questioning brow at her. "Something to protect the weakest points of the people. A shield is perfect," she laughs lightly.

Ryan's eyes widen as he realizes what she's referring to. He blinks, wondering if he heard her right. "And you think I'm the best craftsmen for this?"

"You have all the materials," she answers, gesturing to his wall of shelves.

Ryan steps around the anvil to stand next to her and look at his shelves himself. He tilts his head, considering. "And I've already beaten the impurities out of the iron," he muses aloud.
"You'll make it, then?"

Ryan's silent a long moment. These are his materials. It's one thing to say you've put yourself into your work. It's quite another to actually do it. He turns to face her, raising his chin ever so slightly. "For you, I will."

He trusts her.

"It will take some time," he warns.

Rachel nods. "We'll have it, here."

Ryan nods and gets to work. The first thing is to check on the iron and be sure it hasn't ruined in the time he was making up his mind. Whether it's Rachel's presence or simply that he doesn't want this to go wrong, he couldn't have asked for better metal to work with. Satisfied that the iron is fine, he begins to add to it: copper, nickel, chromium, niobium, tantalum, osmium, iridium, platinum, a gram or two of aluminium, and all the tungsten he has.
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He works the metals together, shaping, heating, conditioning, and strengthening them into one solid sheet. He's silent while he works, focused on the metal's composition. He can scent when he's got what he wants and he plunges the metal into a barrel of water to cool it, filling the room with steam for a moment. He lets it sit while he gathers wire spools, the newer ones to his collection: zinc, tin, and titanium. After a moment's consideration, he takes a thinner coil of gold as well and returns to his workstation.
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"I think you should add one more," Rachel says before he can start twisting the wire into rope.

Ryan arches an eyebrow at her. "Oh?" Rachel nods and points to the silver and Ryan frowns. Silver is hard for him to work with and he has even less of it than he had of the tungsten. What he does have, though, is pure and unalloyed, flickering the firelight back at them.  "I don't think that suits a shield," he says, brows furrowed at her.

"You should make shields more often, then," Rachel smiles, insistent.

Ryan looks doubtful, but shrugs. "It's your shield," he says with a hint of warning, picking up the coil of metal. It's the thinnest wire of the four by far, but it has to be if he's to thread it all the way through. He works carefully, twisting the four strands together into a thin cord without snapping any of them. The silver, so thin, is nearly lost among the other three, but it glints through in places and shines just as bright.
When he has enough, he binds the ends of the cord and seals them with heat before running the entire length of the metal through the flames to ensure they anneal together and don't come loose. Then he sets the cord aside to return to the shield. It needs to be polished and the edges smoothed before he can put the two together. He grinds the roughness down first, then buffs out the last of it leaving a smooth surface behind. The shield is a dark grey and while it reflects the firelight flickering in the room, it in no way has a brilliant shine to it.

Finally, he can add the cord. It's a fine light thing and he solders it onto the borders of the shield with a zinc alloy. It's delicate work, the sort of thing Suzi's taught him, but he's had precious little else to do for two years. Where the ends of the cord come together at the top of the shield, he covers with a small emblem securely fastened. It's Suzi's emblem for him. He rather likes it.

He lets the metal cool while he puts the wire back on their shelves and the tools in their proper place. He stretches a bit while Rachel steps forward to look at his work, still not touching. Ryan lets her study it while he washes some of the grime off himself in the water barrel. "I didn't think the silver would fit, but," Ryan sniffs, "it smells right."

"It's beautiful," Rachel answers.

Ryan shakes his head. "Happenstance. It's made to protect." He picks up the shield to give it to her, but hesitates. Rachel waits, patient, flame licking up around her. "It'll be in good hands," he finally assures himself, extending the shield to her.

Rachel nods. "Yes. Thank you, Ryan." She finally touches the metal and Ryan shivers despite the heat of the room.

"You've done a great deal more for me and mine," Ryan replies, waving it off. "It's the least I could do." He falls silent, hesitating. "I won't see you again, will I." It's not really a question.

"Not here."

It's not what Ryan was asking, but that's alright. He nods and gives her a small gentle shoulder bump. "Good luck, then."
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