The First Shot (Original)

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Caiaphas
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The First Shot (Original)

Post by Caiaphas » 2018-02-16 09:56pm

Something I tossed together when my brain sparked while perusing Atomic Rockets.

I am a one-shot semi-autonomous space denial weapons platform. In more pedestrian phrasing, you might call me an orbital mine.

What I am, regardless of the terminology, is a pair of tubes massing some five hundred kilograms in total. From one tube sprouts a fungal array of dishes and transceivers and cameras on a short latticework boom, sensitive in the radio, X-ray, and infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Nestled in the heart of that tube is a mirror and its accompanying light-gathering apparatus, and tucked away behind that is my brain: four massively redundant and radiation-hardened computer chips, similar in construction and design to its predecessors two centuries hence. All of these sensors, my eyes and ears with which I monitor everything that passes through my assigned bubble of space, are powered by a set of small solar panels affixed to the side of the tube.

My slow tumble allows this panel to be exposed to sunlight for only brief moments even as it allows me to sweep my sensors through the full 360-by-360 bubble which I am assigned to watch. The trickle of power suffices to run my brain and sensorium and to charge my onboard battery for when my orbit takes me into the shadow of the body which I orbit. If I require more energy it is a simple matter to halt my roll with a minute expenditure of the propellant I carry in my onboard tank and to reorient myself towards the sun. Barring collision with orbital debris which either destroys my brain or punctures my propellant tank or the initiation of the device I carry in the second tube, I am projected to be operational for 25 years before I require replacement or servicing.

The device I carry in my second tube was dreamt up by my masters some two centuries prior to my development, production, and deployment. Officially it is known as a two-stage nuclear-initiated directed energy weapon.

Their ancestors called it Casaba-Howitzer.

The device I carry is initiated with a ten-kiloton nuclear device. Upon its initiation the flood of X-rays from the nuclear chain reaction will vaporize the beryllium oxide filling the front half of the tube; the reaction will also have vaporized my brain by this point, but that is of little concern.
The beryllium oxide plasma will reradiate the absorbed X-ray energy as heat, and in turn vaporize the frontal plate of the tube, converting it to plasma as well. This will fly into space with mean particle velocities in excess of 1000 kilometers per second, within a cone with an opening of no more than 0.050o. Energy density will be sufficient to severely damage or disable enemy spacecraft within 50 kilometers.

In the vast emptiness of space this is no distance at all. To compensate for this my masters deployed myself, my siblings, and my larger cousins in swarms of tens of thousands, in orbits calculated to allow maximum coverage of the denied region, all of us networked together with constant streams of l89jsdaopsd)(*&#($U(j9&$,#*×[×[×

An enemy has attempted to scramble my targeting systems. I immediately begin an automated search routine, examining the fresh data from my sensorium as it streams into my brain.

There. With measured puffs of propellant from my maneuvering thrusters I slow, then stop my tumble, then turn my primary telescope towards the fast-moving anomaly, powering my active sensors, pinging my nearest siblings with targeting data and receiving their light-lagged affirmatives. Stealth will no longer protect me now that I have been discovered and attacked: now it is a race between myself and my siblings and the enemy craft.

I take a microsecond to examine its signature. Emission in IR is strong, emission in radio is strong, emission in X-ray is weak. It looks like no warship in my memory, but it lacks a friendly IFF beacon.

I double-check standing orders as another microsecond ticks by. Fire if attacked, which includes attempts to subvert me or any of my siblings electronically, fire on any vessels lacking an appropriate IFF signal.

Orders are clear.

I and six more of my siblings in the 10 kiloton range lock onto the enemy.

Brightness.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF

URGENT

TOP SECRET - EYES ONLY

Today at 1143 hours Eastern Time 61 of our Mk3 and 11 of our Mk4 Space Denial Weapons Platforms stationed at Luna opened fire on 5 separate orbital and ground-based civilian installations. List follows.

The Chinese space elevator’s counterweight station was struck by 12 Mk3s and 2 Mk4s and was destroyed. No survivors.

The Russian space elevator’s construction site was struck by 7 Mk3s and 1 Mk4 and was severely damaged. Survivors are broadcasting.

The Tycho International Research Base was struck by 3 Mk4s from extreme range. Two of 6 habs were breached, and radiation shielding of the remainder was compromised. Survivors are broadcasting.

The joint Mexican-South American colony was struck by 25 Mk3s and 2 Mk4s at extreme range and was lightly damaged. Casualties unknown.

The Federated States of Africa colony was struck by 17 Mk3s and 3 Mk4s at extreme range and was lightly damaged. Casualties unknown.

Orders are as follows:

DEFCON 2 is in effect.

All space denial assets are to be IMMEDIATELY shut down pending network security upgrades.

Upon receipt of this message all United States space vessels are to proceed with best speed to Earth-Luna L4. They will acknowledge receipt of these orders prior to maneuvers. They will bring all ships under MANUAL CONTROL. They will then SHUT DOWN all communications until arrival at L4. They will signal arrival at L4 and then SHUT DOWN all communications until further instructions.

Any United States space asset observed on an orbit which brings it near to any foreign military or civilian asset after receipt of these orders is to be fired upon by all available ground installations and disabled. If disabling the asset is not possible, then it is to be destroyed.

Ground installations WILL INFORM United States Space Command of their targeting solutions prior to firing. Ground installations WILL NOT OPEN FIRE without express clearance from United States Space Command.

DO NOT fire at foreign assets unless fired upon.

Acknowledge receipt of message upon reading.

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LadyTevar
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Re: The First Shot (Original)

Post by LadyTevar » 2018-02-17 04:33am

Now that was a nasty little computer hickup.
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SpottedKitty
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Re: The First Shot (Original)

Post by SpottedKitty » 2018-02-19 12:40am

Sounds like Bomb #20 has a friend he can talk to (briefly). :twisted:
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Caiaphas
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Re: The First Shot (Original)

Post by Caiaphas » 2018-02-22 01:45am

LadyTevar wrote:
2018-02-17 04:33am
Now that was a nasty little computer hickup.
I was going for "deliberate and subtle hacking attempt", but I'm assuming that falls under "computer hiccup". :D

...okay, so my anxieties over the current state of my home country may be influencing my writing a tad. Just a tad.

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