Laser Grids

Laser grids are nigh-ubiquitous spaceship equipment that have been in use since the early days of the interplanetary era. Much like most personal laser equipment such as the stylus, they are first and foremost utilitarian tools that also double as weapons.

Civilian laser grids take the shape of small clusters of laser emitters installed at the prow, stern, starboard and port sides of the ship so that they provide all-aspect coverage at all times. Their main purpose is to protect their ship from micrometeorites and space debris by emitting in short bursts capable of vaporizing impactors that have been deemed a threat by on-board sensors. Though a ship threatened by large (>5 meters) debris will often use evasive action, civilian laser grids can also fire in longer bursts to partially melt impactors and force them to change course. On modern vessel, laser emitters can be furthered clustered to provide a single, maximum intensity burst that is used for surface mining or wreck reclamation. The wavelengths of civilian laser grids are fine-tuned to provide the best balance between potential health hazards and power conservation, with most of them including software safeties preventing the bursts from being maintained for too long. Under common spacefaring regulations, a spaceship using its laser grid is legally obliged to broadcast a specific warning signal. Virtual reality interfaces for helmets and open cockpits always display the area within which laser grids are being used in bright coloured circles. When a ship with active laser grids travels through a thick dust cloud or debris ring, the constant bursts from its emitters accompanied by melting debris create a striking visual effect, as if the vessel was equipped with some kind of energy field.

Civilian grids can be mounted on very small frames, the tiniest of which are laser-djinns, small drones that roam around civilian installations and remove debris or stray asteroid fragments on their own.

Military laser grids are greatly upscaled versions of civilian ones, with all software safeties removed and much stronger lenses. Installed on gimballed turrets, they can be used in a defensive or offensive role. As a defensive tool, they are geared towards firing rate and gimballing speed. Against a single missile, laser grids will try to melt through its outer armour to make its engines detonate. Against a saturation attack, however, each emitter will focus on a single missile, aiming not for destruction but for disruption, blinding sensors, melting RCS thrusters and communication arrays. When the laser grid goes on the offensive, it switches to long, high-intensity and focalized bursts in order to ravage external ship structures -- radiators in particular are a prime target for laser grids. The smallest emitters can also be used as sensor blinders in very close range engagements. Military grids operate at much higher intensities and wavelengths than civilian ones, and can be outright deadly for drones or EVA personnel if used in a debris protection role. In Eloran and Terran space, military vessels are legally obliged to either carry a secondary civilian grid, or be accompanied by a support vessel when entering planetary orbit or high-traffic areas.

Laser grids are all but useless when going against Sequence vessels, as they do not use missiles and have thick organic hulls that regenerate faster than a laser grid can melt them. Anti-Sequence vessels will typically remove their grids before combat, either to focus on FTL performance or make room for a UREB mount.

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