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.


Trope-a-Day: Only a Flesh Wound

Only a Flesh Wound: Averted.  Sure, modern transsophs have all kinds of enhancements for durability and healing – smart cardiovascular nets, auxiliary hearts, better blood clotting, etc., etc.  Those will help you if something slips past equally modern milspec combat armor with full kinetic barriers, or against a (very) glancing hit or ricochet, or against car wrecks, or shrapnel, or stabbing, or being on the fringe of an explosion.

But a mass-driver gun tosses target-customized flechettes downrange at appalling, air-plasmating, entirely excessive velocities.  If you get hit directly by one of those without armor, or with enough of them to overcome its protection, it’s a bone-pulverizing, flesh-pulping experience that is almost certainly not survivable – and there’s no safe place to be hit.

If they bring up the heavy weapons or go to full-auto, it’s all over bar picking the vector stacks out of the slightly-charred chunky-salsa-esque ooze.

Indistinguishable From Breakup

“Anjeä SysCon, this is VS Ardent Voyager, gated in-system from Loxix, identifying. Over.”

“Ardent Voyager, Anjeä SysCon, we have you arriving at 5173-09-14:7-51-11; squawk ident. Welcome to Imperial space, please specify your intentions. Over.”

“Anjeä SysCon, Ardent Voyager. Request through-clearance for immediate transit to Conclave System, minimum delta transfers. Over.”

“Wait one, Ardent Voyager… Voyager, please confirm your hull class and propulsion. Over.”

“Anjeä SysCon, we are a beehive habitat with reserve mass driver propulsion. Over.”

“In other words, Ardent Voyager, you’re flying an asteroid and moving by throwing rocks. With regret, please shut down all active drive systems immediately. You are denied transit permission under power. Over.”

“Anjeä SysCon, we are a diplomatic vessel and have the right of transit to Conclave System. Over.”

“Ardent Voyager, you have the right of transit, but that doesn’t exempt you from the rules of navigation. Over.”

“Anjeä SysCon, what’s your problem with us? Nowhere else has refused us transit. Over.”

“Ardent Voyager, this is a crowded system with too damn many loose rocks anyway, see? We don’t want any accidents, and a drive like yours is a flyin’ invitation to accidents, or a hefty cleanup bill. It’s a miracle you got clearance to transit this far. Over.”

“Anjeä SysCon, what are we supposed to do, then, just sit here? Over.”

“Ardent Voyager, hire a tug? Either to finish out your voyage or jump back out-system, but either way, you’re not runnin’ that hazard to navigation anywhere in our sky. SysCon, clear.”

– overheard on system space-control channel, Anjeä (High Verge)