Tuesday August 24, 2004
Book 5: The Scrapyard of Insufferable Arrogance — Part IV: Hand it Over
Note: The Narration in the above comic glosses over a principle oft misunderstood by those seeking to undertake Very Big Projects, and that is that something can be "simple" while still being "non-trivial."

Consider, for instance, the fact that the so-called "breacher missiles" code-named "Fastball One" and "Fastball Three" have primary annie plants roughly 60m in diameter. Accelerating something to beyond 99% of the speed of light requires the conversion to energy of many times the mass of that which you're accelerating. Even assuming no loss to heat, you're talking about annihilating dozens of times the mass of these ships just to get them up to speed.

This explains why the Potato Dumplings, code-named "Mitt" for this operation, is so much larger than the ships it is decelerating. That 1000-meter annie plant of his contains neutronium equal to several hundred times the mass of the two fastballs, and a significant fraction of that will be spent decelerating them.

The other non-trivial aspect of this operation is aim. Dogding a beam of light is EASY, assuming it was fired at you from more than a few light-seconds away: just move around randomly. Whoever accelerated these ships to absurdly high speeds also had some sort of hypernet "bugs" on the targets, so that the Fastball courses could be corrected.

The upshot of all this: whoever took out the pair of Superfortresses and the Scrapyard of Insufferable Arrogance made it look easy, but in truth it is Something You Kids Should Not Be Trying At Home.

(I mean it. Put away that linear accelerator RIGHT NOW or I'm telling your mom.)


Narrator: There's a trick to accelerating a ship beyond .99 CEE, and still leaving it enough onboard power to do something useful.
Mitt: Fastball One and Three, this is Mitt. I'm gravying you down to point-eight in three, two, one. . .
Narrator: It's simple: You use one or more other ships to "throw" it, and others to "catch" once the 'something useful' (or destructive) is done.
Fastball One: Don't EVEN teraport fuel to me. If I ever correct for this corkscrew you slapped down, I'm gonna put some serious hurt on you.
Narrator: The codenames "Fastball Three" and "Fastball One" reflect this.
Fastball Three: Stop whining and eat your neutronium.
Narrator: . . .As do the warships 'real' names: 'Priority Delivery' and 'Painstakingly Defenestrated.'