Epistolary Experiment (9/30)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Interruptions, Delays to Service in Spinward, Coreward Constellations

Outer Ring Netweavers, ICC regrets to inform its customers that, due to the ongoing state of war, extranet service can be expected to suffer delays and interruptions in the spinward and coreward constellations affected due to necessary network security measures.

Extranet service via ORE relays in the three constellations adjacent to the Republic border, the Crimson Expanse, Vanguard Reaches, and Csell Buffer, has been temporarily suspended to all except military priority traffic and high-protocol overweaves. Other constellations currently affected include the Galith Waste, Frentish Nebula, and Cordai Gap, all of which may suffer service delays due to enhanced security, anti-worm, and authentication checking protocols, and in which all current open-service relays have been suspended.

Affected constellations currently include the primary territorial volumes of the Free Eilish Confederacy, the Nineworlds, the Nsang First Interactivity, the Qiraf Assembly, and the Silicate Tree, in addition to various freesoil worlds and ecumenical colonies. Further suspensions in the coreward-spinward segment of the Worlds are expected to follow.

ORE apologizes for the inconvenience and asks for its customers’ understanding of the exigencies of war.

Contact:

Serril Cyprium-ith-Reyne
Sophont Relations
Outer Ring Netweavers, ICC


From: Adm. [blank], Imperial Naval Intelligence
To: Imogen Andracanth, VP Research, Ring Dynamics
Subject: UNSEEN KEY
Security: EYES ONLY UNSEEN KEY

About what? We don’t know any more than you do.

From: Imogen Andracanth, VP Research, Ring Dynamics
To: Adm. [blank], Imperial Naval Intelligence
Subject: UNSEEN KEY
Security: EYES ONLY UNSEEN KEY

Precisely.


“…while skirmishes continue along the Borderline, the Admiralty reports that a Republican raiding force has successfully broken through in the Crimson Expanse, and is currently pushing coreward into the Cordai Gap constellation, through systems controlled by the Qiraf Assembly, making significant efforts to loot additional fuel and resources as they go. Their motivation for doing so is presently unknown, since no known major military assets or other suspected high-value targets lie directly in their path. Nevertheless, Field Fleet Core is beginning a discreet mobilization.

“The Spinward Lines cruise liner, Circumstellar Wanderer, has been recovered from Republican forces in the course of securing the Doranzer System, Admiralty sources reported today, although she was heavily damaged in the ensuing battle. Of the 4,128 souls aboard, 2,919 were reported temporarily killed and 328 permanently killed in fighting aboard the ship as she was taken, ongoing resistance, and as collateral battle damage in Doranzer System. All aboard, per manifest, and their vector stacks have been accounted for, and detailed casualty lists have been made available by the Admiralty.

“In other related news, the Seranth Exchange today announced an eighteen-day suspension of trading on assets located within the primary conflict zone. <Brassy Trumpets in B-flat>, floor supervisor, was quoted as saying that it was ridiculous to expect any market to clear while all its asset values were coated in a thick smog of war. Meanwhile, on the currency exchanges, the Voniensan external-exchange credit closed dramatically down at 14,127 to the esteyn.

“This is Wynerva Peressin, reporting for Telememe.”


The drop pod sings as it descends. Bass thrum of the atmosphere. High tremolo hiss of the plasma sheath. Clattering thrusters as we jink —

Mektsha, that one was close.

Three hundred thousand. Aerozone, fins popping, countermeasures spinning up.

Painted already, fast for meat, someone’s on the bounce down there. Two-fifty kay, closing rate —

Incoming! SHIT —

– from the thought-log of Legionary Cordril Tsurilen

 

 

 

Improvisation Kills

It is a truism of celestial warfare that among the most valuable targets to seize in the course of a major planetary assault operation is the primary planetary starport or local starports close to the  intended target(s) of the operation. Starports, for all the obvious reasons, make perfect orbitheads, offering existing facilities eminently suitable for the landing and disembarkation of troops and materiel in quantity. (Orbital elevators, by contrast, are usually considered too fragile and susceptible to sabotage for this purpose, if the enemy are willing to absorb the ensuing damage to their own planet, until the orbitals and the continental area surrounding the elevator have been entirely secured.)

Why, then, are combat drops rarely, if ever, targeted at the vicinity of starports?

Again, it is important to remember that which is unseen. The popular image of starports is heavily biased towards the facilities for ground-landing starships – understandably, since the giant launch/landing pads built to handle nucleonic-thermal ships, with their blast-deflecting berms, “hot” shafts, and motile structures are some of the most impressive structures ever built – and towards the shuttleport terminals used by commuters and starship passengers alike. Nonetheless, the majority of cargo in the developed Worlds is carried by dedicated spacecraft incapable of atmospheric landing, to and from which cargo is transp0rted in high volumes using suitably cheap methods: either laser-launch/deceleration facilities, mass drivers, or both, in which case the former handles light or delicate cargo and the latter hardbulk.

What this means in military terms is that, any other defense grid aside, the majority of starports in the developed Worlds have at their disposal a multi-gigawatt-range phased-array laser system, and/or a pair of mass drivers capable of accelerating a solid slug the size of a shipping container (or, equally effective, a shipping container packed with rubble or cheap heavy-metal ingots) to orbital velocities – both, admittedly, equipped with safety systems designed to prevent them from being used in exactly the manner which is desirable for military purposes, but that is something usually corrected readily enough by a software change – along with all the high-resolution traffic-control sensor equipment needed to target them effectively.

It is also a truism of warfare in general that one shouldn’t stab a heavily-armed man in the front. That is doubly relevant when the things they’re using as weapons are also the value that you want to capture.

– Elementary Principles of Orbit-to-Ground Maneuver Plans, pub. INI Press

Fire in the Sky

“Those lights? They’re nothin’, kid. Just ships shooting it out for control of low orbit. Nothing to worry about. There’s only three kinds of light show you need to watch for…”

“A streak of cloud like a contrail coming straight out of the zenith, a bright glow at the tip on the way down, and a big debris cloud where it touches down. Looks like some god stuck his finger down from heaven and squished the target. That’s an orbital kinetic strike. Don’t worry about those – if it’s close enough to kill you, it just did. If you can see it, you’re safe.”

“Then there’s the ones that are just lines of light that flash on and back off, no cloud, ’cept for the debris at the base. That’s a graser strike. And if you can see it, it’s killing you.”

“See, grasers are lousy weapons to hit groundside with; air disperses the beam too much. Those big ones they mount on super-caps have enough beam strength to do it, but they still scatter – meanin’ the scatter itself is hard gamma, and lots of it, everywhere inside visual range. So if you see a blue line flash in the sky, start taking your antirad meds. Well, not the iodide or the cobalt or the chelators, ’cause there’s no fallout to speak of, but all the rest of ’em.”

“And last, there’s the scatter of light-streaks like shooting stars, only jagged, ’cause they’re jinking across the sky dodging the gridfire. That’s a combat drop. As long as they’re long streaks, they’re coming down distant. Just call it in.”

“If they’re short? Then the war’s coming to you. But look on the bright side, kid. At least if they’re dropping on top of you you won’t be seein’ graser-flash any time soon…”