In the years I’ve been associated with Davie Whitmore, this was one of the few times I really was upset with her and her actions. It’s not so much I disapproved; hell, there were times I was tempted to do exactly what she did! But I learned restraint and the value of listening to others.
I can’t blame her too much. After all, if she didn’t do it then, I probably would have ordered it later.
And yes, I’m speaking circuitously because Adam says I can’t give you spoilers!
But if you want to have the whole book, you can, just click the button below and you don’t have to wait any more! Or click an image and you’ll be able to buy it, too.
“Try not to shoot down the squadron,” Whitmore told O’Toole.
“No, Ma’am,” he answered.
The first layer of defense were the Defender countermissiles. Njord carried two hundred of them, and could fire all of them through twelve missile tubes in under three minutes. They had a powered range of 100,000 klicks at 200 g acceleration and active target tracking. Their shortfall was that they, like the Artemis Tycho missiles, were non-explosive and depended on the kinetic energy of impact for their effectiveness.
The point defense lasers, the second layer, were comprised of three individual lasers aligned at a single point. Each laser was a different type: one gamma ray, one x-ray, and one in the usual optical frequencies. The graser was the most potent, but had the shortest effective range, just over five thousand kilometers. Anything that got close enough to be hit by the graser probably wouldn’t survive the experience. The x-ray and optical lasers had longer ranges but had less impact.
There were nearly two hundred of these clusters spread around the body of Njord, each with sixty degrees of aimable range. Roughly sixty clusters could target the incoming missiles, and O’Toole and Diana worked over the firing solutions.
The third layer of defense was the shield system. Similar to the ones which protected the starships in flight, it could theoretically prevent damage from attacks in the electromagnetic spectrum. It also integrated a gravitic element, which projected an invisible ‘wall’ beyond the electromagnetic shield. Lasers and the like could easily penetrate it but that wasn’t the purpose. Instead, it was hoped that any physical objects would impact that and be deflected from their trajectory, if not destroyed.
All of the systems had been simulated and passed with flying colors.
None of them had been subjected to real-world tests.
“Eight minutes,” announced Diana. “Entering countermissile range.”
“Mr. O’Toole, fire when ready,” ordered Whitmore.
“Firing,” he said, and sent the command. Eighty four of the Defenders launched in a minute and ten seconds and rapidly closed on their targets.
Shortly, he reported, “Five minutes. Intercept in twenty seconds. Ten. Five. Intercept.”
The central holotank, displaying both sets of missiles, was suddenly active. Missile after missile flared and dropped off.
“Kill rate, 65.7%. Twenty six survivors. Impact in three minutes.”
“Another launch?” asked O’Toole, the next salvo already programmed.
“Another launch,” confirmed Whitmore. The problem with close-in intercepts was, quite simply, time. There wasn’t enough.
“Defenders away. Forty seconds to impact.”
The wait was shorter and, as before, the holotank showed the results. This time only seven survived.
“Kill rate, 73.1%. Impact in two minutes. Missiles are no longer accelerating, current speed 346.1 KPS.”
“Laser clusters active,” said O’Toole. “Opening fire at 40,000 klicks.”
The oncoming profile of the Tycho missiles was only two meters across, but one by one the lasers knocked them down. Some of the missiles were targeted by four or five clusters, others only by one or two, but no missile managed to get closer than 10,000 kilometers and a wave of celebration swept the CCIC.
“Bring the squadron home,” said Whitmore.
“Yes, Colonel,” said Diana.
“We have another launch from Luna,” said Shreve. “Tracking on target, but it’s big and it’s got high accel.”
“Hold the recall,” Whitmore ordered. “How high?”
“Three hundred g,” said Shreve.
“Three hundred?” gasped Knott. “Davie?”
“Titania wept! That’s nothing I know about!” Whitmore answered.
“Mass is equivalent to a Gemini-class frigate,” Diana said. “Impact in seven minutes, thirty seconds.”
“Track that thing!” snapped Kyran. “I want to know everything about it before we blow it out of space.”
“Commodore, our countermissiles won’t do anything to that. Neither will the point defense.” O’Toole looked apologetic as he announced this information.
“Use the main battery,” said Whitmore, recovered from her shock.
“Tracking. Big bastard, no problem there. Tracking, locked on target. Permission to fire?”
“Open fire,” Whitmore confirmed.
Six petajoules of energy crossed the distance to the incoming target in under a second. A fraction of a second after that, the target ceased to be.
“Target destroyed,” said Diana unnecessarily.
“Colonel,” Kyran said, very officially.
“Take down the cruisers. They crossed the line.”
“Aye, Commodore. Mr. O’Toole, reacquire the closest Copernicus. Open fire when you have lock. Repeat until there isn’t a cruiser in orbit over Luna.”