(46b) Addendum to (46)

The Misha Campaign (264-1121)

Kalida and Helia talk about gunnery

    Helia says, "I know that you've been told that there's another weapon and we weren't going to let you use it.  If you go into sparkly pink mode you're going to have the choice to use it."
    "Correct," says Kalida, "And the captain has already told me not to use it, so I can't use it until he tells me to."
    "I'm going to tell you what it is because you may have to use it, and if you use it wrong you may die."
    "Along with everyone else."
    "Or if you use it wrong you may end up dead, for using it wrong.  OK?  What it does -- and no-one else but you and I will know this -- what they expect that it does is pretty much what it does do.  I don't want them to know what it does.  I looked at it, I didn't know exactly what it would do except I knew it would keep them from killing us, and I used it.  That is the only proper circumstance.  Well I have done some testing using this.  It will bite chunks out of planets.  Used properly it could destroy a small asteroid.  When used on a planet with atmosphere, it's the equivalent of at least 500 megatons.  In vacuum it has less effect.  The captain will tell you don't use it because I told him we should never use it.  I am telling you now that at this point I trust you enough that under those circumstances, and only under those circumstances when you are positive no other weapons will work, can you use it, and only to save our lives.  Not to save our bacon, to save our lives."
    "Well, we should know how it works."
    "What it seems to do is to make individual atoms blow up and transfer that energy to the one next to it, and so on and so forth.  That's what it seemed to do, a chain reaction of atoms blowing up.  What it did is made that ship blow up from the inside out."
    "Here's my view on it, or really just the general situation.  We don't want to use this weapon because it's a terrible weapon, and should only be used as you said in extreme circumstance.  Also, as importantly, it's something we don't understand.  We know its effect, but we don't really know how it works.  If we have this, and it's here and available, we should know how it works."
    "The thing is, even though the captain has said don't use it, remember the way command works.  If I tell you it's OK to use it now, if I say it's OK to use it only under these circumstances, then the captain will have to gig both of us and he won't.  The thing is, under those circumstances, I might could have used the other weapons, but I didn't know quite what it did."
    "You've used it in simulations?"
    "I've used it in simulations since.  It does have a limit.  It can only do so much.  The range is limited.  Also in the simulations it didn't try to jump back and affect us."
    "Did you try to limit its effect?"
    "Yeah, I did try.  The limitation is small things blow up, and bigger things blow up in chunks.  It'll blow up anything up to the size of a small asteroid.  The denser the matter, the bigger the explosion."
    "Does it make a difference where you were aiming?"
    "It depends on the size.  It apparently has up to X amount of energy, so if it hits something that's small, it immolates that object, but it doesn't seem to have excess energy flying around.  So it'll utterly destroy anything up to a certain size sphere.  If it's bigger than that, there's a big explosion in the center, the middle is gone, and what's left on the outside flies away in pieces."
    "And it always blows up in the middle, you can't go for an edge?"
    "You can't really pinpoint aim it -- you throw it at a target.  Like aiming at the center of a city.  I tried aiming at the center of a planet, but it didn't seem to do anything -- it may or may not set up some sort of disturbance that might be felt on the edge.  So if you could hit it a few times... but we don't know much about the energy used in it anyway."

Kalida in Sparkly Pink Mode

    Seated at her console, Kalida thinks about gunnery as Helia has told her to do: "I'm the gunner."
    Kalida becomes the ship.  She is travelling in space.
    The missiles, of which she can manage an individual burst of as few as five or so, fly out underneath her; it's designed to fire everything at once, and she can initiate the full burst with just a thought.  The missiles themselves are fire and forget, and once targeted will pursue different paths to a time on target arrival.  Anti-missile fire is by the single laser, and with practice she can point at an amazing number of incoming bogies very rapidly indeed; the beam originates about five meters away from her, the ship.
    Helia had said, "You will be amazed how slowly the missiles come at you, and how easy they are to pick off."
    She was right.  Kalida is enjoying this greatly.  She practices all sorts of firing modes of both laser and missiles.  It's a little difficult to relate to this targeting procedure, but it's something she knows she'll pick up rapidly.
    Kalida really is the ship.  It is her personally.  She can see for a full sphere around her -- and oddly enough has little trouble adapting to that unsettling feeling.  She also knows tactical information, coming through the feed from the person in the tactical role.  Sensor details feed in, and she can communicate the desire for specific sensor information which the sparkly pink sensor operator can fulfill.  She feels in concert with Helia, so the pilot is aware of where the ship should be and how to point it to get the best shot, while the gunner knows how the ship is moving and can fire accordingly.
    The laser fires in line of sight, but the other weapons can be targeted around objects -- provided, of course, she can see them with the sensors.
    Even in sparkly pink mode, she can still communicate with people on the bridge.  It's a distraction, but she can talk.  As Helia had said, "We're all doing our individual roles, and if we do that and talk to each other properly, the ship will run perfectly."