Book 3, Chapter 1: Silver Linings
"...and this is the center of our project, Admiral."
Kol looked at the monitor of the shuttle. It had been a week since he had stumbled across the Project Novalith station, and he was now getting a personal tour by Doctor Weir. Staring into the monitor showing the exterior of the primary facility, he couldn't help but marvel at the way security had been maintained. Several construction yards, an asteroid base, the main facility, and all the resources that supported it, and no one had had any clue it was out here. Given the sheer size of the Trade Order, though, such a diversion of funds would not be that difficult to hide, but the secracy was impressive all the same.
"In basic terms, Admiral," Weir continued, "it's a massive phase transfer cannon. We fire frigate-size rounds directly into phase space. Since it has no crew, it can tolerate massive accelerations that no organic life could. Which is good," she added with a smile, "considering the theory behind it was to violently shift it back to normal space moments before impact.
Commodore Hestan whistled approvingly. "How much damage would it cause?"
"Well, Commodore, there's really no way to measure it. Between the energy bleed and the fact that the round would have been going several thousand times the speed of light..." Weir gave a little shrug. "On the ground targets we have tested, we estimated that it would be the equivalent of several thousand nuclear warheads."
The cabin was very quiet as those present absorbed the information. Kol's entire staff was present for the tour. He would have liked to bring the Gibraltor's captain along, but the ship had developed harmonic disturbance in its phasic drive that required repairs. Luckily, the Novalith had plenty of engineers and techs.
"As impressive as that sounds, I understand that its viability as a weapon system is decidedly limited," Kol said, breaking the silence.
Weir turned to the admiral. After a few moments of studying his impassive features, she gave a light shrug and continued.
"Yes, of course, Admiral. In theory, this system could be used against any target in a cluster. Practically, though, it's near useless on anything smaller than a planet, and even then, only in the same system the cannon is in."
"Why is that, Doctor?" someone asked from behind Kol.
"Well, simply, it requires extremely precise coordinates. We're talking about distances measured in light years and decades. Even a trillionth of a percentile off will result in a complete miss."
"And let's not forget," the commodore added, "that it's a big, fat target that would take a long time to build in a warzone."
"Fair enough," Kol interrupted. He didn't want his people dwelling too much on what this stunning, useless wonder weapon couldn't do. "Doctor, perhaps you would be so kind as to inform us what weapon applications you have gleaned from this Novalith."
"Uh, yes, Admiral," Weir muttered. She pushed her antique glasses back up into place. "While the Novalith Cannon was more or less a failure, it offered us unprecedented insight into the nature of phase space. In fact, we learned more attempting to fine-tune the Novalith's targeting system than we have in the past dozen years fighting the Vasari." She turned and manipulated her console.
The monitor changed focused from the outer layer of the cannon to the nearest vessel in the squadron of cruisers patrolling the station. Kol was particularly interested in these six ships, as they were unlike any configuration in the TEC database.
"Those cruisers are the newest generation of ships we have developed in conjunction with the Core-side weapons R&D labs. We have dubbed it the Ogrov-class Torpedo Cruiser. Its primary weapon--the aforementioned torpedo--is actually our first successful phase missile."
Hestan almost sputtered his coffee out over his uniform. "What? We have a phase missile now?"
"Yes, sir. Unfortunately, in order to match it to the range of the phase missile the Vasari use in their long range frigates, we have to increase the missile size exponentially. A cruiser was the smallest class we could mount the new system on, especially given ammunition concerns. In order to somewhat off-set this somewhat, the torpedoes were fitted with a much larger warhead."
"And the monster ship we detected?"
"Ah, yes, I was just getting to that," Weir stated with a slight blush. "Basically, instead of modifying existing Marza-class dreadnoughts, we've designed a new ship from the keel up with our new torpedo systems. It will be even weaker in close range than a Marza, but a fleet built around a core of those ships, with Ogrov support, will be able to devastate the Exiles from beyond range and force Vasari ships to concentrate on their own defense."
"And what do you call these ships, Doctor?" Kol asked.
"For lack of a better term, and until we hear back from the Core, we call them superdreadnoughts."