…And The Strength Of The Wolf Is The Pack

The MMR-144 Parasol rockets launcher.

No, it’s not a rocket launcher. It’s a rockets launcher.

That’s because the MMR-144 fires a single unguided projectile which acts as a bus for twelve smart missiles, which deploy at the apex of its trajectory and hunt target areas according to their programmed profiles.

Yes, we said target areas. Upon reaching terminal guidance, each smart missile separates into another twelve penetrating guided warheads, each capable of seeking out and mission-killing an independent target, for a sky-darkening total of one hundred and forty-four kills per firing.

The MMR-144 Parasol rockets launcher. For when you really want to throw some shade.

– from an Eye-in-the-Flame Arms interactive advertisement

 

Yeah, Maybe Not That Short

Academician Sesca Galith stepped up behind the podium, and tapped it gently to begin. The audience quieted rapidly as she held up a wickedly-pointed poniard, of oddly-textured metal, with lights gleaming white and amber in its hilt, whose image was repeated on the displayed behind her.

“Presenting, gentlesophs, the latest in field interrogation technology from Eye-in-the-Flame’s cognitive weaponry division. This little tool is our ripknife, a guaranteed instrumentality for extracting information when it is both necessary and urgent. Using a nanitic burning-scan reader, when emplaced in the cerebral cavity of a target via some vulnerable aperture or thinness, the ripknife creates a high-resolution destructive scan of the neural network of their brain’s essential regions, then uploads it via your tactical mesh network to your battlespace command center. There, static mind-state analysis or fork interrogation using our patented NEUROLAUNDRY ™ software will lay your target’s secrets bare within minutes, and relay useful information back to you over the mesh. There is no better way to ensure field data acquisition proceeds rapidly enough to keep you inside the opposition’s command-and-control loop –”

A grizzled kaeth in the audience coughed. “Doc, we’re all just simple mercenaries here. Give us the short version?”

“Find someone knowledgeable on the other side, then stick it through the eye socket and wait until the light turns blue. Ignore the dripping. Then you know what they know. Knew.”

 

Trope-a-Day: Marked Bullet

Marked Bullet: You can actually buy gun add-ons to engrave the flechettes (with elegant and situationally relevant haiku, even, in the case of the Eye-in-the-Flame Warrior-Poet Gun) – granted, it’s too small to read with the naked eye, and it’s almost impossible that it will be readable post-impact – as you fire them, if you really want to make a point of this sort of thing, but it’s not exactly a practical device.

(And anyway… like they say, it’s not the bullet with your name on it you should worry about, it’s all the thousands of bullets labeled “To whom it may concern.”)

Trope-a-Day: IKEA Weaponry

IKEA Weaponry: There are a number of these, mostly analogous to their real-world equivalents.  The exception is Eye-in-the-Flame Arms’s Puzzle Pistol, which is a 3D puzzle made from geometric chunks of blue-black diamondoid that can be disassembled from its polyhedral resting form and reassembled into an oddly-shaped cartridge (i.e., non-mass-driver) pistol capable of firing a single preloaded slug.  It’s really more of an executive toy than a practical weapon, but has occasionally been used in practice…

And there’s the way that most weapons are usually assembled from modular components in the first place, sometimes in the field by nanolathes, but those usually don’t come apart again afterwards.

The Breakfast Of Champions

DROPSHIPS: EMPIRE OF THE STAR

The final entry in this section, affectionately known to the Imperial Legions as the “Big Ugly Breakfast 1” – and less affectionately known to almost everyone else as “Good gods, what is that thing?” – is the Flapjack-class cavalry dropship (Eye-in-the-Flame Arms/Artifice Armaments). Uniquely among Imperial starship designs, the Flapjack has adopted the rare “disk” or “saucer” hull form. It does this because the Flapjack-class is equipped with not merely a single, but a pair of nuclear-pulse drives, using the relatively environmentally friendly laser-fusion or (in the Flapjack II) antimatter options, the descent and deceleration drives; the dorsal and ventral hulls of these ships are in effect simply the pusher plates for these drives. The main body of the vessel, suspended between these on hydraulic dampers, is a short, wide cylinder, heavily structurally reinforced and itself surrounded by  “sidewall” armor as thick and refractory as the pusher plates.

The intended usage of the Flapjack is orbital insertion of armored vehicles, en masse, into hot zones. To enable this, after being decoupled from a carrier in the high orbitals of a planet under attack, the Flapjack uses its descent drive to accelerate downwards through the atmosphere, minimizing dwell time within range of orbital and anti-air defenses. In addition, while the descent of a Flapjack obviously has far too bright a sensor signature to be concealed, the combination of the radiation hash from the descent drive’s thrust bombs and the plasma sheath formed by its hypersonic atmospheric transit together render it extremely difficult for weapons systems to attain successful guidance lock, and terminal guidance (especially to the fine degree necessary to insert a weapon into the narrow window of vulnerability between the pusher plates and the sidewall armor, even if the weapon is capable of surviving and maneuvering in the immediate environment of an active nuclear-pulse drive) virtually impossible.

At the end of its descent trajectory, the Flapjack uses the more powerful thrust bombs of its deceleration drive to perform a “suicide burn”; i.e., maximal deceleration at minimum altitude, compatible with lithobraking in a manner which preserves the integrity of the ventral pusher plate. This deceleration burn serves the additional functions of preparing the drop zone for the arrival of the dropship by flattening any structures or prepared defenses, and eliminating any but the most heavily armored, secured, and radiation-proofed resistance in the immediate area. Once the ground is reached, multiple armored cargo access doors with integral ramps and excavation drones permit the Flapjack to be actively discharging combat vehicles within minutes of a successful landing.

A proposal for an infantry dropship along the lines of the Flapjack, tentatively designated the Pancake-class, has been advanced by Eye-in-the-Flame Arms, but at the present time the high-radiation aftermath of such a vessel’s landing is not considered viable for personnel wearing M-70 Havoc combat exoskeletons or N45 Garrex field combat armor, the current legionary standards. While this would not be a problem for troops equipped with the specialized N45r Callérás high-rad field combat armor, its associated disadvantages and the expense of refit ensure that, for the foreseeable future, infantry will continue to be landed via drop shuttle (q.v.)

– Naval Starships of the Associated Worlds, INI Press, Palaxias, 421st ed.


1. A statistically improbable number of combat drops take place at planet dawn.

Trope-a-Day: Hand Cannon

Hand Cannon: You can, indeed, fit some bloody powerful mass drivers into handgun-sized weapons, these days – although even with recoil compensation, etc., it helps to have some of those military-grade musculoskeletal reinforcements – and some way to brace yourself – if you plan on firing the things comfortably or with any reasonable degree of accuracy.

There are even a couple of handgun-sized slugguns on the market, if you feel like a one-handed gyroc-grenade launcher is just what the doctor ordered.  (And Eye-in-the-Flame Arms, outré as ever, sells a sluggun derringer – which, yes, you could theoretically load with an slugfire antimatter grenade – although even by the Empire’s loose standards, the crossover market between “small, concealable suitable-for-waistcoat-pockets-and-ladies’-purses gun” and “can snipe buildings” is… not exactly huge.)

[As a side note, while it is entirely in keeping with the Eye-in-the-Flame design process – which is to say, getting as high as possible on creativity-enhancing nootropic drugs and ignoring entirely the coquetries of practicality – I was a mite concerned about the reader-credibility of this particular example of their products.

Then I learned about this real-world product, a derringer chambered for .81/20 mm, which is to say the type of shells used in Vulcan autocannon. And that they’re planning a 30 mm version.

I rest my case.]

You Can’t Sheathe It, Either

“Excuse me?  Could you tell me why this sword is so highly priced?”

“Ah, that’s because this is a mollyblade.  The edge is single-layer graphene, less than a nanometer thick.  It’ll slice cleanly through anything but muon metals, gluon string or neutronium – or antimatter, of course – and we can make-to-order one for you that’ll slice muon metals, too.”  The shopkeeper carefully slashed the blade through the air.  “See the glow around the tip, where the blade moves fastest?  Dissociated air molecules recombining.  It’s that sharp.”

“And that costs a million esteyn?”

“Well, not strictly speaking.  The problem with the mollyblade is that a blade that sharp is also fragile.  It damn near blunts itself on air molecules, too, which is a problem a lot of the lab applications don’t have.  So what you pay most of that million for is the on-the-fly resharpening system that keeps it that way while you’re hacking and slashing with it.”

“Which is…?”

“Proprietary.  Very proprietary.”

– overheard in an Eye-in-the-Flame retail outlet