Some Notes On Guns

Continuing the discussion from Post-Contact Hilarity:

I did love the review post, but just a few notes here for anyone looking for canon. Or cannon. :wink:

Technically, it’s got four. Powercell, ammoblock, thermal clip, and since it’s a sluggun, magazine.

(The former two fit into the fixed stock; the thermal clip screws into the side - bayonet fitting -, and the 64-round sluggun magazine snaps in on top like a P90’s.)

You are extremely unlikely to need to change out the ammoblock in the field. It’s good for tens of thousands of rounds. You usually change out severely depleted ammoblocks during regular maintenance.

You also usually don’t need to change out the thermal clip except during maintenance - the weapon’s designed to radiate away heat but the goo eventually crystallizes after many cycles - and the heat sink is usually a bench-replacement part on non-military models, but the military ones put it in thermal clips so you can swap it out in the field if you are engaging in sustained unusually high rates of fire.

(The exceptions here are hailguns, which are defined by sustained high rates of fire, and thus tend to combine disposable coolant and powercell into a single swap-out unit.)

The powercell’s the only thing you need to expect to change out regularly. Good for a couple of hours on an average battlefield. Press-and-yank the old one, shove a new one into place. Designed for quick-swap.

Side note: the magazine design uses a mechanism that rotates rounds on an elongated circular track, and drops them down to load. This allows you to load multiple types of round in a single magazine, then switch between them on the fly - essential for effective sluggun use on the modern battlefield.

While it does have a kick (especially when firing anti-materiel spikes rather than lobbing grenades), it’s surprisingly light by equivalent standards. They put a lot of effort into gyros, magnetorheological fluids, regenerative deceleration, and the like kinds of recoil damping.

It’s not one of those guns that will shatter your arm if you fire it without armor and bone weaves, at least. :grinning:

Oh, boy. You do not want to short one of those powercells. They hold a lot of energy to run the mass driver for that long, and they’re the quick-discharge type for obvious reasons. If you did manage it, you would not be feeling any pain.

(Indeed, there is a special ops manual on the gentle art of using QD powercells as impromptu grenades.)

Fortunately for those needing to fight in rain, swamp, or ocean, powercells are inductively coupled to their receptacles, specifically to avoid problems associated with getting moisture and dirt in the works.

It took a bit longer to figure out an analogous heat-exchange system for the thermal clips, but it’s the same principle.

It’s designed to work with a personal (and optionally team) battle mesh, yeah. While the optical sight is nice and includes basic capacity-available indicators, the manual controls are, charitably, spartan. You get the selector switch (safe/rifle/slug) and three-detent trigger (single-shot/three-round burst/automatic-while-held), and can manually rotate the magazine to choose sluggun rounds, but that’s about it. No feature options for you.

That said, manual operation is intended as an emergency backup, not for routine use. Normally you could run it from a ‘lace or VII, a wearable, have your muse do it, run it from your armor hub or sub-warming, etc., etc. if all else fails, whip out your tablet terminal and program it that way.

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VII - virtual intelligence interface? interlink interface?

I can’t see NATO going for ‘lacing or ‘planting soldiers just for gun interfacing, but a wearable seems very likely. I bet DARPA will be jumping on that posthaste, as soon as they deal with the eleventy other things that need doing NOW.

I mean, it’s not that big of a leap from 'lacing monkeys to play Pong to 'lacing Marines to go pew pew

Somehow I don’t think eldraic systems are going to be cozy with the crude 'lacing that Earth-developed tech is capable of, starting with the safety interlocks, to the encryption and handshake protocols, and going from there.

And NATO is not just going to put the Imperials in the critical path for not just functional weaponry, but functional armsmen of any sort.

What I’m hearing here is that these rifles can and will gracefully handle increasing levels of user incompatibility, and what they can’t handle can probably be picked up by an industrious but underpaid contractor.

The question is whether they can afford not to, before a passing merchantsoph dumps the latest open-source versions of the tech onto the open market.

Virtual Interface Implant. The intermediate step between a wearable and a neural lace; it can’t simply read your thoughts, but it can add information to your sensory input and respond to subvocalizations. Hopelessly obsolete by Imperial standards, but still in common use elsewhere.

The question is whether they can afford not to figure something out quickly before someone realizes that swiftness in procurement of weapons and/or mercenaries will earn them at least a temporary promotion to “baddest motherfuckers on the planet”.

While it is true that Imperial ironmongers prefer not to offer their products to raging assholes and reputable mercenaries consider “grubby shoots” beneath their dignity - and bad for morale and troop quality - it’s not like there aren’t plenty of disreputable dealers and mercs out there.

And your friendly local Artifice Armaments, ICC rep will not shy from pointing out to you that you might want to invest in some modern defense technologies (and perhaps the valuable cadre services brokered through Ultimate Argument Risk Control, ICC) before someone like that guy, yeah, right there, figures out that he can hire a whole bunch of linobir shock troops, guns included, and pay 'em in looting rights. Sure, by the standards of the greater galaxy, they’re ablative meat… but here?

The one neuron in human brains in charge of long-term planning: “Hell dawg that’s all you had to say!”

Some variant of magnetic refrigeration?

And since it is in common use elsewhere, it can be multiply sourced, evaluated by independent groundside and galactic viewpoints, traded, and most importantly can’t be simply embargoed by fiat.

Humans and eldrae are sufficiently close cousins that we will know someone’s going to be sneaky, melith or no melith.

For this reason, NATO will instantly grab wearables for immediate use as they require no biosurgical prep, and implement VII as resources, threat-levels, consent and comfort dictate. (A lot depends on just how many systems are between us and the nearest authoritarian star nation, pirate nest, unscrupulous trade post, and so on. Getting solid intel on local galactography is a must, and OSINT won’t be sufficient no matter how open the extranet filters are.)

That’s precisely why they don’t jump straight to 'lacing, or even VII. Aside from the medical ethics, logistical single-source avoidance, and so on… don’t use your first-rate cohorts for “early adopter” trials. Let someone else short out their proprioception and cerebellar feedback because baselines don’t have #RANDOM_AMAN_UPGRADE and the shady rep didn’t notice.

So yes, the ICC rep will make their points, and NATO will point out that they’re not silly enough to jump straight to top-of-the-line stuff with enough delay to let some less reputable schmucks ambush them while half-trained. So sure, we’ll talk cadre for trainers and ultra-shiny hardware, but timetable. Give us something we, not your friendly neighborhood mercs, we can start getting familiar with right the eff now. Do space elves do ‘trust but verify’?

Neural laces aren’t single-source tech; they’re not even single-nation tech. You can pick 'em up anywhere in the Core Economic Zone from Cognitech, sure, but also from companies as diverse as Satori Noetic Enlightenment Boutique down through Honest Jinmi’s Goodthinkful Place & Benzene Bagel Bar.

If you’re concerned about single-sourcing, the thing you ought to be concerned about is the gun, since the IL-15i Battlesystem is all kinds of proprietary and Artifice Armaments aren’t shy about license enforcement.

Or so they would assume, anyway…

Oh, they will happily sell you all the downlevel hardware you want, don’t get me wrong, from the penultimate shinies all the way back to muzzle-loading cannon if the buyer requests.

But apart from opening the sales pitch with the good stuff, they would also like to be sure that ifwhen the performance difference between noetic and virtual interfaces bites you on the ass, that (a) they told you about it, with graphs and charts and historical examples, (b) therefore it wasn’t their fault, and (c) therefore you ain’t getting a refund.

So, the trick is to treat any contract negotiations with an Imperial company like negotiating with the Fae. The bad kind, the blood-soaked ones that consider the Brothers Grimm stories to have been toned down. An iron-clad contract is not strong enough, you want something in the range of titatinum-clad. Adamantium-clad, primary adamantium preferred. But, if you can get that contract, they will enforce it to the letter.

Which is something that it takes a lot of effort to explain to some people. Especially politicians that think they can re-negotiate the deal after it’s been made.

(And, while watching an Imperial do the whole “pray I do not alter the deal” thing with vector-manipulator devices is good fun and probably useful from a eugenic standpoint, running through most of the Presidential succession on a regular basis is hard on the carpets.)

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That is pretty close to the exact opposite of true.

Theirs is a very high-trust society, remember? Deals involving more money than this planet has are routinely concluded on 'change with a word and a handshake, because that’s how gentlesophs do business. Dictum meum pactum and pacta sunt servanda, and coming to a mutually beneficial and harmonious agreement: sédelélef.

Now, sure, you can adopt the whole

mindset and insist on treating business dealings like negotiating with a hostile party where you’re doing preemptive defense and probably your damnedest to screw each other over, and they’ll dance with you - very well, in fact, having plenty of experience with actual hostile parties. (Up to a point, anyway, that point being the one at which they decide you’re too much of a pain in the ass to deal with and there are plenty of counterparties in the sea who aren’t.) But you end up with a caülgyrelef - you’ll get less and pay more for it that you would have, had you behaved in a more gentlesophly manner.

And you’ll find that the terms and their enforcement have more knives in them, it being understood that people who go around acting like everyone’s planning to screw them over are usually the same people who spend a lot of time doing the screwing.

tl;dr Here is the secret to success in this market: whatever Donald Trump would do, do the exact opposite.

(Word reference here.)

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In retrospect, I can see your point. But, the only way I can think of getting this through some people’s heads is the idea that Imperials consider trust, truth, and agreements to be sacrosanct is that way. You don’t play semantic games with Gods, those rarely end well for the guy that thought he was a tricky bugger.

And, nothing says that the titanium-clad contract can’t be mutually beneficial, you just have to spell things out because Imperials aren’t humans with very good (if somewhat inadequate) prosthetic ears. They have reasons for what they do-logical, thoughtful reasons. They just aren’t human reasons and you can’t just “wing it” on human instincts. You have to work through all the dreary steps because of the old expression of “assume is when you make an ass out of you and me.”

(Hilariously, this is what a good lawyer does. It’s not all courtroom drama. It’s spending hours checking every single punctuation mark of grammar, because sometimes that punctuation is where you make your bones.)

That’s all well and good, but Sol isn’t in the Core Economic Zone, now is it?

"OK, for our regular press pool, this briefing is on background and should be attributed to ‘Senior Defense Official’. Our new colleagues on the line should have received a packet from Civil Affairs, containing licensing terms codifying our local attribution tradespace; contact the Public Affairs adjutant after the question-and-answer segment if you didn’t receive one, or if this is your first pool briefing. For that last cohort, a rough approximation of the terms would be something like “as your description of the speaker gets less specific, the level of detail communicated gets more specific.”

Right, now to follow-up on a question from the last briefing Q&A – on the choice to invest in wearables and VII in addition to our partnership negotiations for fully wired – or ‘laced’, as the preferred outsystem term seems to be – anyway, tightly integrated weapon/wielder connections. We’ve had a lot of feedback from many terrestrial commentators, both experienced professionals and, uh, otherwise. That’s on top of the public notifications from the folks at Artifice Armaments, of course. I want to note that some of the most insightful comments came before their press releases began, so the following analysis is not just in response to our new blue-blooded quasi-cousins…

Anyway, we’re looking at this in much the same way as the dustup by the Black Sea a little while before Contact. We’re on the opposite end of the problem, but the scenarios have many parallels – a memetically advanced but technologically lagging force, primarily requiring immediate defensive capabilities while also needing to rapidly turn over the techbase to reach battlespace parity standards.

We caught a lot of flak back then too, for prioritizing an early push of second-rate hardware over just sending the shiniest stuff on the first flight. Folks assumed we were shorting the front-line fighters, but it was just the opposite. The entire series of equipment transfers was designed to make the turnover while in the field, maintaining an escalating capability all along. It’s all very well for us to build a cadre of noetic-network special forces – just to take a hypothetical example; not confirming or denying plans for such – but if we face a threat three months into a nine-month training course, they’re not going to be much help.

Our average trooper, regardless of service, isn’t going to dive straight into intensive neurosurgical implantation – nor should they! Whereas a wearable with a virtual interface is something they can instantly grasp and rapidly acclimatize to. From that pool we draw the early adopters for VII, and from them, for 'lacing. But in the meantime we still get that escalating boost to effectiveness across the board. Crawl before you walk, walk before you run – but make sure you’re the best damn crawler in the playground in the meantime.

And lastly, to the folks still harping on that tarballed set of charts, graphs, and promotional sensories-- all I can say is, we very much appreciate packaging all that high-quality OSINT on likely threat capabilities and effectiveness gradients for our analysts’ convenience.

Now, whose hand was up first? Ah…"

If you’re buying the Artifice Armaments IL-15i Battlesystem, which is where this started out, you’re shopping in the Core Economic Zone. (Having presumably found a shitton of hard currency somewhere.) Also, more specifically, in the department labeled “Shiny Transrifles for Shiny Transsophonts”.

Otherwise you’d be buying your guns from Min Rosell Combine Mercantile, or some mid-range outfit like Consulate Export Arms, JSC, Rhuliv Longteeth, or Nal Kalak State Arms that sells weapons probably more suitable for phase one of your suggested gradualist approach.

(Or, for real emerging markets chic, a bunch of Meat Machines that fell off the back of a Hariven, but that’s not worth going for.)

'Cause what you’re proposing doesn’t fit that approach. You’re starting out by buying the shiniest, most up-to-date piece of hardware on the market, then half-assing its support systems in ways guaranteed to make it perform well below spec, when you ought to be buying something mid-range and whole-assed.


This is what I was thinking the United States’ approach would be…the best middle tier hardware they could get, get in quantity, and support, which would serve as the basis of future developments into building up to working toward higher-tier hardware and equipment.

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Would you believe I only just figured out I was quoting the Tao of Ron Swanson?

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