Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Ghost Fighters

Any culture using Non-Biological Entities in my Ghost Drive setting will have fighters. Rule of cool aside an NBE drive doesn't suffer from the drawbacks of rockets: size, propellant and heat build up. Their acceleration is limited by the physical nature of the pilot of course. Fighters seldom are allowed, or need, to land on planets unlike shuttles that rely on rocket thrusters. A fighter is a missile bus. It uses its reactionless drive to get close enough to ships to fire missiles powered by rockets. Get close enough and delta vee doesn't matter as much as thrust.

Psionic pilots are used. A fighter has a small confinement unit. In order to maintain several hours of intense acceleration and cloak heat and em emissions to provide some stealth and survivability the NBEs are charged up rapidly. A typical fighter will have six or more NBEs in a bare bones confinement unit. You need a psionic pilot to shore up the defenses of the confinement system and cajole the NBEs to play nice with each other. Charging up one spirit at a time and using them in rotation with a cool down period is a nice idea that flies out the window in combat. Charging one up can also lead to infighting as the NBEs denied snacks fall on their more fortunate fellow or the supercharged favored one falls on its nearly dormant colleagues.

Fighter pilots are on intimate terms with their NBEs (as intimate as you can be with a totally alien life form composed of exotic matter.) They know just how far they can push each and regularly bet their lives on that knowledge. In the Empire they are psionics of proven or coerced obedience. Self destruct charges do wonders to insure compliance. The Ghoul Cults sometimes use fighters without human pilots, placing one strong NBE in charge. These fighters amount to berserkers. They have no limits on their acceleration, mass less without a life support system and frequently turn to attack their launch ships after an enemy is defeated.

Unlike the image conveyed by thriller holos most space fighters are basically spherical for the greatest volume to surface area. Minimal thrusters for docking or emergency ditching are fitted to the rear. There are no windows or canopies for a view to weaken the already thin hull. The cockpit is not a cramped seat but a tank of oxygenated liquid flouro-carbon the pilot floats in to resist the brutal acceleration. Control is by neuro-interface or ocular control displays. Some psionics use mechanical switches they can flip telekinetically.

In a radical departure from ship design fighters carry their NBEs in canisters stored on the fighter's hull. this is less safe than an internal vault. But most damage to a fighter that knocks it out pretty much is an assured kill. In protracted battles fighters may be able to swap out their over clocked ghosts for fresh ones on resupply ships or stations. exterior canisters make this easier. In a pinch a psionic can also jettison an unruly spirit.

Of course a few seconds after working out this system someone realized putting a rocket and a guidance system on a canister makes a missile with a very nasty payload. The kissile doesn't even have to be that accurate. Anywhere within a few hundred kilometers of a ship and your opponent will suddenly have to deal with a hyperactive NBE that most likely resents its hard misuse and is not concerned about on whom it wreaks vengeance.