Taxonomy of FTL Weaponry

The weapon of choice for faster-than-light engagements are geometry-drive equipped missiles. These powered projectiles are fired from hardpoints on military vessels and are teleported towards their targets via a geometry translation. They form the backbone of modern space-to-space weaponry and are rare, sophisticated weapons that fall under very strict criteria for trade and ownership. FTL missiles are extremely expensive ammunition, mostly because they require to sacrifice a geometry drive. Their nature as weapons of mass planetary destruction grants them a very specific, quasi-religious aura. It is not rare to find FTL missiles adorned with intricate carvings, bas-reliefs, mystical seals or precious jewels. For the average person, the sight of such a weapon is rare and awe-inspiring. Very few worlds manufacture these missiles, with planets specialized in FTL ammunition, such as Ishtar, being surrounded by fear and mystery.

Geometry missiles come in various shapes and sizes depending on their roles and payload. The smallest ones are similar in dimensions to industrial-era surface-to-air projectiles while the largest missiles are the size of surface-to-orbit rockets. FTL missiles most often carried by dedicated space platform such as combat spaceships, drones or stations. Outside of combat missiles are stored inside the ships and their geometry drives are turned off to prevent translation interference. In combat situations, missiles are deployed from the internal bays, with agile ships sometimes entering a spin to provide additional evasive capabilities. Though FTL missiles can be teleported anywhere except within the translation envelope of another drive or solid matter, they have to compete with the fact that spaceships can also perform tactical translations over several light seconds.

FTL missiles come in various classes, though all of them are based around the same structure: a geometry drive, a payload and a fusion drive capable of performing accelerations up to 50 gees. The translation accuracy of a missile at usual combat ranges is under five kilometres. Finally, most missiles do not have the luxury to deploy radiator strings and will often melt themselves to death in long engagements.

  • Needles are simple kinetic impactors, with a basic payload and a single-use geometry engine to drive their cost down. They are mostly used in ship-to-ship combat, fired in swarms to overwhelm enemy defences before they can shoot the projectiles down or translate the vessel away. The cheapest Needles are clustered in a MIRV-like configuration inside a single geometry drive equipped frame. The best defence against them is mobility and electronic warfare: Needles require data beamed from their parent ship which gave them the nickname of "torpedoes". A large combat vessel can deploy hundreds of Needles with a few FTL-capable MIRVs.
  • Lances are more sophisticated hunter-killer missiles, capable of reacquiring a missed target after a failed interception. They can chain up to five geometry translations in a row and track down a vessel across several light minutes. Lances have their own targeting equipment which allows them to operate way beyond the communications bubble of their parent vessel. FTL mobility alone is of little use against them. It has to be paired with defensive missiles and aggressive sublight manoeuvers to force the incoming Lances to bleed delta-v.
  • Swarmers are an evolved version of Lances that are fired in clusters of five to ten missiles. Swarmers can act as a group, beaming targeting data to each other and tangling enemy ships in vast interferometry nets.
  • Halberds are variants of Needles optimized for space-to-ground exchanges and the most destructive kind of surface weapons allowed on military vessels. They translate at the edge of an atmosphere then plunge towards their planetary target. Their warheads are reinforced to survive re-entry and are optimized for damage against single targets such as bunkers or vehicles. When the parent ship doesn't have direct line of sight, a Halberd can deploy a small swarm of re-entry vehicles beaming targeting data to the MIRV warheads.
  • Stalactites are hunter-killer missiles configured as deep space mines. Larger and beefier than Lances they are equipped with an additional propulsion and targeting stage. They are dropped in groups of ten to twenty in deep space where they main remain in a deep sleep for months to years. As soon as they resolve a hostile ship, Stalactites lit up and engage. Some of them even trade fusion drives for chemical rockets in order to give away as little heat signature as possible. 
  • Fractals are defensive missiles that are attached on external hardpoints alongside a ship's main fuselage. Their main use is to get rid of Lances tracking down a vessel. Instead of a conventional payload, they carry a fragmentation charge that can shower a  vast expanse of space in superheated debris. While these debris cannot really compromise a vessel, they are more than adequate against a missile. Fractals have two case uses: mine and anti-missile. When used as a mine they are dropped behind a ship just after a defensive translation in order to destroy the Lances sent after their parent vessel before they have time to reacquire. In a more conventional anti-missile role, Fractals are sent after the thermal signatures of enemy projectiles. 
  • Mirrors are another class of defensive missiles, more expensive than Fractals and more effective. Instead of a warhead, they are equipped with a blunt-tipped all-aspect laser emitter comparable to a small laser grid. They are deployed at the beginning of an engagement and move alongside their parent vessel in swarms of four to five. They can either complement their ship's laser grid or actively hunt down enemy missiles. Mirrors are the largest, longest-lived missiles available and come with their own radiators, an oddity among FTL projectiles. 
  • Boarders are exactly what it says on the tin. These heavy missiles are to be used against unprepared or damaged ships. Translating in very close proximity they deploy self-powered tendrils to attach to the hull and then deploy drones capable of dismantling or infiltrating the vessel. They are specifically useful against space stations. Boarders can technically carry infantry. 
  • Tenders are a variant of Boarders with a much more friendly function, as they are meant to be used for in-flight, in-combat refuelling. Translating next to a friendly vessel and matching its velocity, Tenders can then transfer missiles, ablative armour, spare radiators or laser batteries to an open docking bay. 
  • Barges are a somewhat more unhinged version of Boarders that are used to deploy space dropped drones, Karman skimmers or scramjet vehicles in the upper atmosphere of a hostile planet. They are equipped with drag parachutes and follow gentler re-entry profiles which also makes them more vulnerable to ground defences. 
  • Martlets are the smallest FTL missiles available and are typically used in a surface-to-orbit role. Fired from a submarine or ground vehicle, sometimes a spaceplane, Martlets accelerate towards low planetary orbit then translate towards their target. Their main advantage is that they can be used to perform counter-battery fire without direct line of sight, as they can translate "through" a planet to strike at the opposing hemisphere or orbit. 
  • Temporal Scattering Vehicles are exceedingly rare, experimental paracausal missiles developed on Azur. These Lances exploit a loophole in geometry drive safeties by performing a series of very close translations at a high frequency which leads the missile to "scatter" across the local timeline, thus existing in several places at once for a few tens of seconds before impact. Upon impact, the geometry waveform collapses and only one hit is recorded. TSVs are true paracausal weapons in that their scattering isn't just an illusion with a "true" missile and several decoys: in order for the TSV to be intercepted, all scatters have to be destroyed - and they can number in the hundreds.

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