Kinetic weapons

Chemical propellants are restricted, and kinetic weapons are outlawed altogether in some star systems.

There are several reasons for this. Solid projectile weapons— aka combustibles, slug-throwers, bullet weapons— are seen as "inhumane", mostly due to their association with the Ploror Conglomerate. They are also incredibly simple to manufacture by the standards of the time and are harder to scan for at a distance.

A humble slug-thrower is energy efficient, easy to maintain and invulnerable to electromagnetic interference. While modern ballistic armour is highly resistant to such weaponry, personal defence shields are not; and since civilians usually have neither, this makes them a firm favourite of criminal cartels.

Kinetic impactors still exist on a more massive scale and are used in space combat. Some handheld coilguns and railguns are in use by modern armies, utilising magnetic and electrical fields like most energy weapons do.

Despite all the supercorporate hand-wringing, the only real disadvantage of a kinetic weapon is the need for ammunition. But since "endless" phase-based recharging units are incredibly expensive, most energy weapons are similarly restricted by their need for a power source, which is particularly troublesome for infantry.

Energy weapons

The term "photonic" is usually used to refer to a weapon that utilises a laser beam as an integral component but not necessarily as the sole means of dealing damage. Photonics are the most common ranged weapon in Alpha Sector, and tend to be "faux-plasma" weapons that hit the target with laser light, and then eject the superheated waste gas as a additional projectile along the path of the laser. Despite the apparent manifestation of the discharge, the so-called "bolt" of a photonic is in fact a pulse, a short-lived beam.

The classier photonics and plasma weapons have a low-power setting to incapacitate targets, using a very brief high-intensity beam to vaporise a small portion of the target's skin: the end result is a very painful plasma burst that often floors the target. While a particularly fragile or unlucky person could be killed by such an effect, armoured opponents and mechs are largely invulnerable to it.

Laser weapons— that is, weapons that use lasers as their direct and only method of inflicting damage— are vulnerable to atmospheric conditions and they're particularly ill-suited at piercing modern defence shields. They are, however, silent, invisible, and capable of hitting a target instantaneously and with near-perfect accuracy. Stereotypically, lasers are the preferred weapon of assassins but in reality a single bullet or neurotoxin dart might be preferable.

Plasma weapons became man-portable a few decades before the Second Colonial War; but they remain prohibitively expensive and prone to overheating. Of course, this is of little concern to the Domarian Legion or the Montakon Confederacy: both continue to manufacture plasma sidearms purely because they can, a sort of prestige project as they race to outfit their officers and specialists with the most intimidating firearms available.

The "blooming" of plasma severely limits effective range, necessitating advanced containment fields. Even more so than with fusion technology (see Special weapons below), the magnetic field's generators are the most vital component in a plasma gun: otherwise the end result is essentially a misshapen hot blob which can't strike the target before diffusing. Contrary to popular belief the "bolts" from such a gun are accidental; escapee plasmoids resulting from vented waste gas, these are essentially aesthetic muzzle flashes to a beam weapon. Plasma guns are often called "mags" by their users, and the infamous Domarian-made mags are adaptable enough to propel solid projectiles (not that they'd ever dream of doing so, that'd be inhumane) and various miniature grenades at various velocities.

Particle beam weapons are classified as energy weapons even though they tend to deal most of their damage via kinetic means. While the smaller "ion rifles" are especially effective when used against mechs and other targets with electrical components, a ship-mounted neutron cannon can produce a near-light-speed beam of hydrogen atoms that can collide with and obliterate an unlucky opponent, with the added bonus of bypassing electromagnetic shielding. As both produce damaging beams to strike their targets plasma weapons and particle beams are often seen as interchangeable, but despite the layman's tendency to dub all beams "plasma", particle guns are more energy efficient and ultimately set to overtake all others once the issue of size and fire-rate is resolved.

Heavy versions of the above all tend to achieve the same end result, but plasma cannons are the most prevalent infantry weapon. Laser cannons are primarily used as countermeasures to intercept drone fighters or missiles. Particle beams are especially effective in a vacuum, and along with lasers are the most commonly seen energy weapon on starships: the size/weight and power requirement of an accelerator is less of an issue.

With the use of improving magnetic stabilisers, photonics and plasma guns are continually becoming more accurate and longer-ranged. Mastery of such fields is one of the core pursuits of all research departments; both in directing projectile weapons, and in utilising the same technology to repel them with increasingly potent defensive shields. In space, a hypothetical close-ranged fight between two supermassive high-tech craft would degenerate into grappling with tractor beams (and directing plasma and antimatter through them) while trying to counter the other's shielding, while the usual broadside kinetic cannons continually exchange fire.

And then Ucelsia phases in next to them and cuts them both in half with its main guns.

Melee weapons

Close quarters combat remains a core tenet of military tactics and training. Even in the most advanced and skilled armies, weapons such as knives persist because they're so simple to manufacture and harder for scans to detect; and they're not liable to run out of ammunition or short circuit when exposed to electromagnetic effects.

Modern developments have allowed "traditional" close-combat weapons to keep up with the times; bayonets that borrow their host weapon's charge in order to superheat themselves or electrify targets, swords with monomolecular edges that can cut through all but the most advanced armours, photon batons that discharge on impact to guarantee a messy and energy-efficient death.

If only because of Ancient tradition and romanticism, swords remain popular with collectors and professional fighters in specialised tournaments, although axes, maces, and hammers have proven more practical versus armoured opponents. Hatchets and clubs are sometimes seen as standard-issue handouts to soldiers when cultural preference calls for something other than a combat knife.

While once dismissed as unwieldy and impractical, the increasing strength and resilience of fighters has seen a rise in heavy two-handed implements such as sledgehammers. A blastproof cyborg operative can dispatch an entire squad with impunity simply by running up to them and hitting them repeatedly with their melee weapon of choice— right up until a rival cyborg crushes their head with a blunt instrument, or a team of mechhunters appears to fry them with ion beams, or a telekinetic pulls their arms and legs off.

Like plasma weapons, high-tech melee weapons are often seen as prestige projects; impractical, but impressive nonetheless. While a sword that can cleave through anything is undeniably useful, it’s hard to justify spending thousands upon thousands on its manufacture when the same money could buy a crate of assault rifles. Conversely, a lightweight (but still very sharp) bladed weapon may be many times cheaper than a sidearm, and still effective despite simple production techniques.

Special weapons

Nanotechnologically constituted munitions (nanocon) are a blossoming favourite of the Duality Corporation, and to a lesser extent their Jaoshijean competitors. So far the prototypes have proved incredibly versatile: a single thumb-sized nanotech magazine (admittedly, used with a generous reservoir of base material) can supply a hundred high-velocity pellets, a dozen globules of high-impact superheated metal, or a trio of massive nanodrone slugs that cling to the target and rapidly eat them alive. Unsurprisingly, the latter fire mode isn't widely publicised. Nanocon weapons are being marketed in a fashion that emphasises their clean, revolutionary approach to dealing death.

Despite the terminology, "nanodrones" as utilised in offensive applications are microscopic, but they tend to be orders of magnitude larger than their molecule-effecting brethren in fabricators; otherwise breaking down a hostile entity would take days, which just wouldn't do. And as for self-replicating grey goo plagues that advance across the galaxy eating everything and replicating themselves… well, even the Duality Corp isn't that deluded. Their stock would crash.

Atomisers, also known as disruptors, are incredibly high-energy devices that use the transdimensional nature of phase technology in a manner which should have occurred to humanity earlier: for annihilating things. Thus far they have proved impractical to weaponise, unless a potential victim could be persuaded to stand still between the various arrays while such a machine charges. Atomisers are usually used to dispose of dangerous materials (and convicts in the case of the Domarian Legion) but they have recently been used to create "thresholds" near phase beacons: security fields which can be activated to obliterate unwelcome visitors. It's rumoured that several R&D groups are working on a cannon designed to create such a field within a single target; such rumours are dismissed in public, laughed about in interviews, and fervently hoped to be true in private.

Antimatter has been a staple fuel source for countless generations, but it is becoming increasingly popular for ordnance as its manufacture and harvesting becomes quicker and cheaper. Together with nuclear weapons, most capital ships have a supply of antimatter bombs should they feel like scouring a planet bare.

Relativistic (or more accurately near-relativistic) weapons are the most effective means of smashing huge parts off even the vastest warship. Any craft can use conventional engines to become a relativistic kill vehicle assuming they have time enough to gather such momentum, and at high enough speeds explosive payloads become superfluous.

Fusion weapons— sometimes called sun lances or sun guns depending on how corny the observer is feeling— are a Uclasion technology. Plasma guns are sometimes referred to as "sub-fusion" devices: true, pure fusion weapons currently exist only as artefacts, used by Grandcruisers or Paleon Guardians. Taking plasma technology to the nth degree, they utilise magnetic manipulation to create a line of frictionless space, and then use their generator to produce and maintain a lance of star-hot temperatures that has thus far proved virtually impossible for any material or defensive shield to resist.

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