shrieker: (also ping-pedo) a single-shot directional EM pulse generator mounted in a capsule suitable for mass driver deployment.

It is a truism of tactics that active sensors, while much more effective than passive sensors, can rarely be used since they are even more effective at disclosing the user’s position to other vessels. The shrieker represents a compromise with this truism; given effective localization and a little mathematics, there is no necessity for the sensor emitter and the sensor receiver to be in the same location. Thus, it provides the means to implement this by emitting the radar/lidar pulse from a point distant from the launching vessel.

The shrieker is far from a perfect solution. It provides partial information on the location of its launcher, especially if the pre-pulse run is short, or the opposition’s sensors are sufficiently sensitive to pick up Doppler distortion in the emitted pulse; and deployments are limited inasmuch as, although directional, a shrieker can only be used in situations in which its pulse will not illuminate the launching vessel or other friendlies to the passive sensors of the opposition. Nonetheless, the additional information provided by even limited active sensor capability can make all the difference in a tactical situation.

– Blackjacket’s Dictionary

7 thoughts on “EEEEEEEE

  1. I thought you didn’t have any form of effective stealth-in-space in the Eldraeverse.

    If that’s the case, then there’s really no use for this as your 275K+ starship, just sitting there, is burning like a dim star easily detectable.

    And that asteroid you cooled down to near CMB temperatures? Its occluding some other interstellar object (star, hot planet) and will be discovered at the completion of the next spherical sky scan survey which we could do every 4 hours with current tech.

    These guys are operating in a near perfect sensor environment, are glowing hot against the background – everyone knows where everyone else is already so there’s nothing to be gained (IMO) from a remote active sensor platform.

    • Well, here are a few points:

      There ain’t no stealth in space. But there are considerable variations in detectability, from torch drives under thrust radiating at HOLY FUCK K through warm-blooded oxygen-breather ships standing still at 280 K through cold-temperature species ships likewise at 50K through such chill objects as cold k-slugs and so forth.

      Things like, for example, idle tactical sensor platforms, or even idle missile platforms, subsisting on a trickle of battery power until an activation signal comes along, are down at the low detectability end of the chart.

      If your rules of engagement require knowing what you’re shooting at, or you don’t have unlimited ammunition, you’re going to want to figure out exactly what that just-a-few-K-above-background warm spot is first, cause there’s a whole list of non-military things it could be shooting at several of which violates the Conventions of Civilized Warfare more’n a bit.

      Second, just because you’re a warship doesn’t mean you look like a warship. Merchant auxiliaries, Q-ships, the Shadow Fleet, blockade runners, etc., etc., all operate things that aren’t warships to external inspection but may want some of the same information. It’s one thing to hide a military-grade sensor suite from the customs guys, but sending out active pings from your location gives the game away in a way that dropping off some shriekers on the way in in case you need ’em on the way out does not.

      Third, everyone shows up on thermal passives, but at long range, that’s a way of saying that you have a big fuzzy blob of heat on your screen. If they’re under way, you can pull quite a bit of information about it’s thrust and mass from the way it behaves, but still, that’s not enough for a detailed profile.

      So if you want to establish that that 200,000 ton starship cruising along at 2.2 gravities with the distinct boron line in its drive plume spectrogram is, in fact, the ENS Krazniy Oktaybr and not some other ENS cruiser, or worse, a merchie with a similar conformation, you’re gonna need a hull map.

      And last, a close-range ping from active sensors at full power is the galaxy’s universally understood way of yelling “HEY, STUPID!” at another ship. Depending on circumstances, you may not want to do this while simultaneously illuminating yourself.

  2. Yeah, big bastards won’t get much use out of such a thing, but lil pissants (like a Hariven) might. Munson is haulin’ a grain-eatin’, asexually reproducing, fuzzball into a system where such livestock in frowned on. He coasts, cold as can be, radiators off. He wants the lay of local space but doesn’t want a direct ping. A shrieker fits the bill.

  3. One shot directional EM source capable of mass driver launch? I’d use a casaba howitzer. By way of a bonus, if you get it close enough you’ll be able to get a good idea of what the target’s hull is made of, by way of its emission spectrum.

    • Trouble with that, versus a one-shot radio rectenna pack (or even a non-reusable but multi-shot emitter), is that it’s pretty clearly a weapon, even if it does, technically, have nondestructive uses. A remote radio transmitter has other plausible uses (and could be tumbled out the door if you don’t have a mass driver), and even if you launch one with a mass driver, it’s not necessarily an attack.

      Sure, if I’m already in a shooting engagement, ping ’em with broad-spectrum EM crap from a casaba-howitzer device and gather craptons of info (and maybe barbecue their sensors while I’m at it). When I wanna know if those four odd contacts out there are merchies or frigates, without necessarily letting them know that I’m a cruiser and not just a big merchie, I’d rather have a ping-pedo.

      • it’s pretty clearly a weapon, even if it does, technically, have nondestructive uses. A remote radio transmitter has other plausible uses

        I beg your pardon? I very clearly have a fuel bunker containing a number of self-igniting high-thrust nucleonic pulse propulsion units for emergency use, where as you have what appears to be a magazine containing modified munitions that are clearly intended to be used in the terminal phase of a surprise attack. Perfidious corsair, etc etc.

        When I wanna know if those four odd contacts out there are merchies or frigates, without necessarily letting them know that I’m a cruiser and not just a big merchie, I’d rather have a ping-pedo.

        There’s nothing cruisery about a casaba howitzer. Remember that they grew out of orion drive research. There’s nothing cruisery about nuclear exposions either: the people who aren’t using nuclear pulse engines are probably using beam or plasma core antimatter engines.

        There’s also nothing necessarily destructive about using a nuclear explosion as the emitting side of a sensor; there’s no reason you have to be close enough to actually toast people, after all.

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