EEEEEEEE

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

On the Role of the Dreadnought

Just to clear up a few misconceptions that may have crept in:

David Weber, alas, has done me no favors by convincing much of the SF-reading world that the standard interstellar badass is the dreadnought.

And, yes, you may remember me saying “it sure would be nice to build nothing except dreadnoughts [for ships-of-the-plane]” back when we discussed ship types, but what I did not say is that if they did, they wouldn’t be dreadnoughts. They’d be battleships, because the modal ship classes for engaging in big set-piece space battles are always designated as battleships. Says so right in the name. Battle. Ship.

Or, to put it another way, there are a lot fewer dreadnoughts than there are battleships. (And a lot more cruisers than there are battleships, for that matter, because most missions don’t have any major fleet engagements in them. But that’s another story, already told.) This is principally for economic reasons: when you examine the requirements for a ship of the plane, the battleship sits right at the bang/buck sweet spot, so that’s what you build.

A dreadnought (and to an even greater extent, a superdreadnought) has four virtues, which is why they’re built at all:

  1. It benefits in internal space from volume increasing faster than surface area, which makes it a convenient class to carry extra stuff, from complete flagship suites through shipyard-class repair facilities for its cohorts and prisoner-of-war blocks to all that is required for the many, many specialized variants on the books.
  2. It can afford a hell of a lot of extra armoring, so you are significantly less likely to get your admiral shot off and your fleet coordination suffering if you give him a DN to ride around in.
  3. It can mount a Really Big Gun of the kind you’ll rarely need to use, but you might miss if you didn’t have any of in your plane of battle.
  4. It’s bloody terrifying. When naval architects are told to draw up plans for a DN or SD, the unspoken requirement is that it dominate the battlespace like Conan the Barbarian at a convention of preadolescent pacifists: it dreads nothing, and everything dreads it.

So there aren’t all that many in service, relatively speaking. There don’t have to be – say, speaking non-canonically and off the back of the envelope, eight squadrons in the Capital Fleet (mostly in the Sixth Flotilla, which is the IN’s heavy-hitting force), four squadrons in Home Fleet, two for Field Fleet Spinward (which borders on the Seam), and one for each of the other field fleets: say, 228 in total, not counting specialist classes and the reserve.

You can assume at least four times that in BBs.

 

NO STEP

(Obvious idea is obvious.)

walkplate (n.): A walkway for magnetic boots (q.v.). Since starship hulls in the modern era are manufactured from a variety of light composites very few of which are significantly ferromagnetic, such walkplates are necessary to enable crewers on EVA to remain attached to the ship.

While early examples of walkplates were simply bolted to the hull, recent designs – preferring to maintain clean lines for the sake of elegance – embed a thin mesh of iron-alloy within the outermost layers of the hull structure, sufficient to be gripped by heel and toe electromagnets. Embedded v-tag transmitters and/or hull markings provide guidance as to which parts of the hull can safely be walked upon.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

 

Transplague Ship

PROCEDURES IN THE EVENT OF IRREVERSIBLE CONTAMINATION

In the event of irreversible contamination by biological or nanotechnological plagues, and standard quarantine responses are deemed insufficient, either (a) as declared by consensus of the Flight Commander, Environmental Systems Engineer, and Flight Surgeon, or (b) as imposed by order of a duly authorized representative of the Emergency Management Authority, the following actions are to be undertaken:

  1. The Flight Commander is authorized to maintain order aboard by any means necessary, including the use of lethal force in such circumstances where it would not otherwise be permissible.
  2. All airlocks and spacetight doors providing sophont access to the exterior of the vessel are to be placed in the closed and sealed state; their local control systems rendered inert by null-flashing; and secured in the sealed state by welding or other permanent closure.
  3. All other apertures, of whatever purpose, providing access to the exterior of the vessel are to be placed in the closed and sealed state; their local control systems rendered inert by null-flashing; and secured in the sealed state by welding or other permanent closure. This is to include all apertures used for the jettisoning of waste, and all radiator systems in which coolant is exposed directly to space, without exception.
  4. The Flight Commander shall designate the most appropriate compartment within the vessel for the temporary storage of such waste material as can no longer be jettisoned and for known-contaminated material that cannot be properly disposed of, including corpses.
  5. Once a stable orbit which does not take the vessel into the local forbidden zone of planets, moons, habitats, or other bodies (see Quarantine) has been established, the flight control systems of the vessel, including local drive controllers, are to be shut down and rendered inert by null-flashing.
  6. All running lights of the vessel are to be configured to display the “death ship” pattern, as prescribed by the Imperial Navigation Act: a 2p period of yellow-quarantine alternating with a 1p period of crimson-caution.
  7. An EM beacon is to be configured on the local-distress channel, broadcasting the following repeating message: ALERT CASE ICHOR I SAY AGAIN ALERT CASE ICHOR. VESSEL [registered name] IS UNDER SEQUESTRATION. DO NOT APPROACH UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. IGNORE ALL CONTRADICTORY TRANSMISSIONS. MESSAGE REPEATS.
  8. If the vessel possesses a point-defense system, this system is to be configured to fire upon any other vessel attempting to dock with or otherwise close to within the forbidden quarantine zone (see Quarantine) of the irreversibly contaminated vessel, other than a vessel whose transponder is signed with the Emergency Management Authority private key.
  9. At the Flight Commander’s discretion, euthanatoics may be issued to passengers and crew.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS A VESSEL MARKED BY THE PREVIOUSLY SPECIFIED SIGNALS TO BE APPROACHED BY ANY OTHER VESSEL OTHER THAN IN RESPECT OF SPECIFIC ORDERS ISSUED BY THE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY.

Any vessel which

  • docks with; or
  • takes aboard passengers, cargo, flotsam, jetsam, or debris from; or
  • enters any emissions plume, from any source whatsoever, of;

an irreversibly contaminated vessel shall itself be deemed irreversible contaminated, and all the foregoing procedures and warnings shall apply to it in like wise.

IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC ORDERS ISSUED BY THE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY, ANY IRREVERSIBLY CONTAMINATED VESSEL SHALL BECOME SUBJECT TO ARBITRARY DESTRUCTION BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES NO FEWER THAN 72 HOURS POST-DETECTION, PROVIDED THAT SAID LOCAL AUTHORITIES COMMAND MEANS TO DO SO IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CAUTERY PROTOCOL, LATEST ISSUED REVISION, ENSURING THE SAFE DISPOSAL AND NON-DISPERSAL OF CONTAMINANTS.

 

Some Leviathan Numbers

Just to clarify the capabilities of those mass drivers, and note, this is back-envelope work.

So, we’re going to stick a big dumb projectile in the breech. By big, dumb projectile we mean a 2400 mm k-slug of soft iron (iron being cheap as dirt, and really, what it’s made of doesn’t matter all that much in this application), and we’ll call it a 2400 mm diameter cylinder, 4800 mm long. That’s 22 m3 of iron, massing 173 metric tons.

If we crank a Leviathan primary up to full power, we’re going to be sticking about 10.1 exawatts (usable) in the flash accumulators; that’ll accelerate that projectile at around 1.1 million gravities for close to a second, meaning it leaves the muzzle with a velocity of 0.036 c, i.e., in the low-relativistic regime. Impact energy delivered to the target is on the order of 2.4 gigatons.

This, needless to say, is way too much boom for almost all practical applications, and no-one routinely stocks that kind of k-slug or runs their mass drivers at that power level, not least because it’s gonna take enough time for the shipboard powerplant to put ten exawatt-seconds in the flash accumulators that you sure aren’t going to be able to fire one of those shots every second, or anything close enough to it to avoid being a big, fat, wallowing target. There are uses for Mighty Glaciers and uses for Glass Cannons, but there’s no use at all for something that’s both.

But if you happened to be interested in what the hardware could deliver if you wanted to comically overkill something with no means whatsoever of fighting back, there are your numbers.

 

Leviathan, Awake

LEVIATHAN-CLASS DREADNOUGHT

Operated by: Empire of the Star
Type: Dreadnought, General Operations
Construction: Palaxias Fleet Yards

Length: 3 km
Beam (avg.): 0.8 km
Z-Beam (avg.): 0.6 km

Dry mass: 2,500,000 tons

Gravity-well capable: No.
Atmosphere-capable: No.

Personnel: 6,736

  • 4,968 crewers
  • 1,768 espatiers
  • Thinker-class AI

Drives:

  • Imperial Navy 4×2 “Neutrino Dawn” antimatter pion drive
  • Nucleodyne Thrust Applications 4×4 “Nova Pulse” fusion torch

Propellant:

  • Deuterium slush/metallic antideuterium
  • Deuterium/helium-3 slush blend

Cruising (sustainable) thrust: 7.2 standard gravities (6.7 Earth G)
Peak (unsustainable) thrust: 8.4 standard gravities (7.8 Earth G)
Maximum velocity: 0.3 c (rated, based on particle shielding)

Drones:

  • 144 x AKVs (loadout varies by mission, typically Daggerfan-class)
  • 144 x add-on thrust packs for AKVs
  • 72 x “Buckler VI” point-defense supplementary drones, Artifice Armaments, ICC
  • 72 x “Rook” tactical observation platforms, Sy Astronautic Engineering Collective (with supplementary IN hardware)
  • 72 x general-duty modular drones

Sensors:

  • 3 x independent standard navigational sensor suite, Cilmínar Spaceworks
  • 18 x [classified] enhanced active/passive tactical sensory suite, Sy Astronautic Engineering Collective
  • Imperial Navy tactically-enhanced longscan

Weapons (Primary):

  • 4800/2400 mm custom axial heavy mass driver, Artifice Armaments, ICC

Weapons (Secondary):

  • 4 x 4800/2400 mm custom heavy mass drivers, Artifice Armaments, ICC
  • 4 x “Black Lightning” axial grasers, Artifice Armaments, ICC

Weapons (Tertiary):

  • 64 x 2400/1200 mm turreted mass drivers (32 capable of broadside use), Artifice Armaments, ICC
  • 8 x 2400/1200 mm turreted mass drivers (rear-firing for kilt defense), Artifice Armaments, ICC
  • 32 x “Flashburn” turreted heavy lasers, Artifice Armaments, ICC
  • Artifice Armaments, ICC “Popcorn” point defense/CQB laser grid

Other systems:

  • 3 x Artifice Armaments, ICC cyclic kinetic barrier system
  • Biogenesis Technologies, ICC Mark VII regenerative life support (multiple independent systems)
  • 3 x Bright Shadow, ICC custom-build megaframe data system, plus multiple EC-1140 information furnaces for sectoral control
  • Class IV starship repair facilities
  • 8 x Extropa Energy, ICC “Calviata” second-phase fusion reactors
  • Flag bridge
  • 4 x Imperial Navy command communications/tactical networking suite
  • 4 x Imperial Navy DN-class vector-control core and associated technologies
  • 3 x Metric Engineering, ICC “Gloaming” ray shielding system
  • 3 x Nanodynamics, ICC “Phage-a-Phage” immunity
  • 32 x modular swapout regions (large)
  • Systemic Integrated Technologies, ICC high-capacity thermal sinks and dual-mode radiative striping

Small craft:

  • 8 x Reaver-class starfighters, with own AKVs
  • 8 x Nelyn-class modular cutters
  • 4 x Ékalaman-class pinnace/shuttle (atmosphere capable)
  • 16 x Élyn-class microcutter
  • 16 x Traest Sargas-class troop transport
  • 32 x Adhaïc-class workpod
  • 32 x Marlinspike-class boarding torpedo
  • 32 x Sledgehammer-class drop shuttle

From without, the Leviathan-class dreadnought resembles a slender wedge, a dagger-blade without a hilt. It is, of course, rather larger than virtually all equivalent dreadnought classes and even some superdreadnought classes seen elsewhere, in keeping with the Empire’s naval construction policy of “shock and awesome”.

This should come as no surprise to anyone, since the realities of armoring such a vessel mandate such a glacis, and as such virtually all ships of the plane, of whatever origin, share this common feature. The Leviathan mixes this up slightly, having a change in ratio along its length that gives the hull a subtle curve and the ship entire a forward-leaning, sleek and hungry look.

(Although those who serve aboard Leviathans, especially back in the maneuvering sector, tend to describe their workplace as the ship’s “fat ass”.)

As is also usual, the apparent outer hull of the vessel is entirely composed of armor plating, which in the case of the Leviathan is a little over 30m thick, comprised of multiple layers of heavy plate, Whipple foam, radiation-absorbent material, thermal superconductors, dilatant shock gel, flexible spreader trusses, and other necessities for survivability in the modern high-energy battlespace, many of which remain classified.

(The important thing to remember about this armor plating is that it is not there to protect against a direct hit from an opposing capital ship. No practicable material will do that. It’s there to protect against the spallation debris left behind after your point-defense grid sweeps the sky like the hand of an angry laser-spewing god.)

This armor serves as a backup to the triple-layered cyclic kinetic barrier system with which the Leviathan is equipped, along with the likewise triple-layered ray shielding to protect against photonic attack.

The majority of the space within this outer hull is unpressurized volume, occupied by machinery space, bunkerage, stores (tanks and unpressurized cargo holds), accessways, robot hotels, and magazines. The habitable volume is represented by a relatively small (roughly equivalent to a 232-storey building, laid out tail-lander style) cylinder buried deep within this, above the axial passage for the primary mass driver, with two attendant counter-rotating gravity rings providing space for gravity-requiring special facilities. Below and to port and starboard of this passage can be found the eight fusion reactors providing non-thrust power to the Leviathan.

In addition to the primary (axial) heavy mass driver, the Leviathan mounts four secondary heavy mass drivers of only slightly lower power along its dorsal-ventral centerline, spread out at 15 and 30 degrees off-axis (although with off-bore firing capability), along with four heavy grasers clustered around, and aligned to, the axial primary.

Tertiary weapons systems consist of 64 turreted mass drivers and 32 turreted heavy lasers, of which half can slew far enough to be capable of broadside firing. An additional eight turreted mass drivers are mounted on the stern for kilt defense, should the prospect of attacking through, or at best in close proximity to, the emissions plume of the Leviathan‘s 24 torch drives not be sufficient deterrent. Finally, the Leviathan is equipped with the Artifice Armaments “Popcorn” laser grid for point-defense and CQB purposes, ensuring that anyone foolish enough to close to point-defense range will have mere microseconds to contemplate their folly before vaporizing in one of the most spectacular coruscations known to sophontkind.

Also pressurized are portions of the “docks and locks” sections to port and starboard, 500 meters for’ard of the drives, which house the Leviathan‘s small craft complement. These are buried beneath the starship’s outer hull armor, which is designed to retract under non-combat conditions to provide ingress. In light of this, the multiple AKV wings and drones are launched via dog-leg tubes through the dorsal and ventral armor, and recovered – if this is necessary during an engagement – when circumstances permit turning broadside to the enemy and recovering through the far-side landing bay.

As a dreadnought, the Leviathan is equipped with a flag bridge and communications/tactical mesh suite for task force command; with the capability to effect repairs on smaller vessels of its task force; with the ability to deploy starfighters for patrol or remote operations missions; and with a substantial espatier force and the means to deploy them, whether in boarding operations or for groundside raids.

 

Cultural Crossovers #8: Thor – The Dark World

Straight on with it:

  • Well, they don’t look much like pre-stellar ignition creatures, but we’ll roll with it. (Anyway, wouldn’t they be Hot Ones in that case, not Cold Ones?)
  • …using a K does not make words extra-special. Just ask the Krell, the K’kree, the Kazon…
  • Don’t Seal the Evil in a Can! That trick never works!
  • Ah, Loki. Snarking in the face of death.
  • …Thor? Have you been listening to your brother?
  • THEY HAVE A CAVE TROLL.
  • This audience would point out that yes, Odin has a point about relationships between the short-lived and the long. But also that there is a cure for that, and if they haven’t figured it out yet, why the heck not?
  • Ah, Darcy, never stop being you.
  • Someone’s suffering some aftereffects of being brain-stirred with a scepter, methinks.
  • Welp, something’s plaited space-time like a much-used handkerchief. Wacky fun with metric engineering?
  • That’s a mite impressive.
  • Evidently you can explode more than once.
  • Holy shit, indeed. Bifrost is a delightfully showy method of interstellar travel. And your reaction, Jane, is simply adorable. The scientists squee and proclaim you one of their own.
  • Yes, “soul forge” is definitely a more poetic name. Our science team agree, although the description of what it does is… odd.
  • Rather civilized dungeons, Asgard has.
  • Interesting cosmology. One presumes that the Nine Realms are themselves an artificial construct.
  • There is perhaps something to be said about what one ought to bring to a battlecruiser fight.
  • Given some earlier comments about woman warriors, it’s good to see that the Queen of Asgard is appropriately badass. And tricksy.
  • …and dead. Shit.
  • A worthy funeral.
  • Lecturing the nuthouse. A sorry end for a great mind and someone who got drunk with a god.
  • Ah, Loki. You may not be a troll, but you’re definitely a troll.
  • Nice flying… for a vehicle you’ve never seen before.
  • Hell, a man takes that many pills, no wonder he’s crazy.
  • Nidavellir: it’s a miserable place.
  • Loki, damn it.
  • Let me rephrase that: Damn, Loki!
  • Oh, well played with that grenade.
  • Is there anyone in this audience who believes that Loki actually just died? Signs point to no.
  • You may have found a body, but the audience still doesn’t believe it.
  • Given that Mjolnir can lay down the smack on someone wielding the functional equivalent – or actuality – of an Infinity Stone, Asgardian weapons technology is really quite impressive.
  • And, hell, where are they gonna run to, anyway? Might as well get a good video on the off-chance the universe survives.
  • Welcome to Vanaheim, gentlemen. Hope they have airfields.
  • Excellent rising to the occasion, intern’s intern.
  • …kinda hope we get to visit Muspellheim sometime. It looks interesting, what we can see through the big ol’ skyhole.
  • Rendered ‘armless. Ho, ho, ho.
  • …aww, the fighter pilots didn’t get to stay in Vanaheim long enough for any mead. I hear it’s excellent.
  • Oh, Loki, you magnificent bastard! (And one wonders what he did with Odin?)
  • And he’s back! Good thing too, bilge snipe and all.

Anyway. Perfect movie for this audience – modulo some serious suspending of science disbelief – complete with perfect demi-villain. Couldn’t be better.