The end of the Petroleum Era saw a vying of superpowers facing each over what they perceived to be the declining resource of the age: fossil fuel. This was particularly galling to the United States of America, as this nation had exploited massive amounts of fuel maintaining aerospace dominance, and losing that edge would cost them their advantages. One of the paths explored was reopening long abandoned plans and ideas shelves decades before due to different reasons. The Cold War Star Wars projects drew particular attention a the nations military powers considered space to be the next frontier of combat, and if space dominance could be gained then they wouldn't have to maintain such a fuel expensive doctrine of air supremacy.
The second space race saw the militarization of space as it's goal. This was functionally similar to the 'Battleship Race' of the early 20th century, a venture that came close to bankrupting the nations involved. The space war race had a similar effect, and with as little outcome to the future conflicts that would arise. The contest was a barrage of constant failure, beset by the first generations of true cyber-warfare, materials shortages, and technology being pushed too far by the demands of the time. Space based lasers and doomsday orbital cannons proved to be flops. First gen mass drivers self destructed, rockets exploded on the pad, and multi-billion dollar weapons disintegrated the first time they were used.
The AHAB system was derived from the Star Wars 'Rods from God' plan. This system used tungsten rods dropped from orbit to strike with kiloton force, producing non-nuclear devastation on a similar scale. The original version was scrapped due to the cost and relative scarcity of tungsten and the minds at the time couldn't model the damage that could be triggered by weapons that targeted tectonic plates and fault lines.
AHAB reduced the size of the rods to something much more manageable than multi-ton telephone poles made of metal, three meter long darts. These darts, treated with thermoablative coverings were capable of surviving reentry without being massive, and once in the atmosphere, could deploy fins and aim themselves. The end result was an orbital bomber, of unlimited duration, capable of dropping smart bombs anywhere on the planet. The number of AHABs launched into orbit is unknown, but while ICBMs were being stripped of their warheads, the missiles were being used to lob AHABs into orbit. There is also the fact that the last generation produced were the Mark 87s, lending credence to there being 86 previous versions.
During the Resource Wars, the AHAB was used to support ground troops, being orbital fire support, able to drop ordnance in sometimes seconds. Few things were designed to withstand being hit from above by supersonic two ton metal rods. This turned more than one battle, especially with the American prototype AISCs guiding the military operations.
The Great White Whale
The weakness of AHAB was that it relied on Petroleum Era electronics, and as computers evolved on the ground, keeping the hardware in orbit up to date was difficult. This left the system vulnerable to hacking. The biggest use of this cyberwar involved spoofing their targeting systems, and on too many occasions, friendly assets were damaged or destroyed by AHAB strike. The largest loss came when a Chinese L/AISC managed to hack several AHABs and caused them to engage an American and European naval force. The loss of the USS Gerald Ford was considered inexcusable and the AHABs were sent shutdown commands, and the Chinese lost control over the assets. The satellites were never restarted, as reaching them from the surface became increasingly unfeasible.
The shut down of the AHAB system and the loss of one of the precious nuclear supercarriers was the bell the sounded the American retreat. This would have been a rout for almost any other nation, but the Americans still retained a degree of air superiority, and the controlling feature of their supercomputer systems, beleaguered as they were. The withdrawal of overseas forces brought a massive level of unrest home, as the patriotism of supporting the troops fell when said troops were brought back in defeat. Riots and protests grew, and the discharged veterans were as often recruited by dissidents as they were crowd control forces. This hastened the breakdown of the centuries old American civil society.
There are certain parallels between the existing New Earth Governments; their goals and desires closely mirror those of their fallen predecessors. The different factions, now joined by the New Economic Blocs as military powers, are engaged in their own struggles. Who can built the most and the best ships, which is the next platform of space supremacy, will the large gun warships dominate, or will the aerospace carrier extend the dominance of the aircraft carrier into space?
The AHAB satellites are still swirling around in orbit, compact and easily overlooked. Their simple design has them rarely extend their solar panels, and then only long enough to recharge their battery packs, and then the dragons go back to sleep. Anyone who can find, activate, and access one of these orbital batteries can have anywhere from zero to sixteen of these kinetic bombardment weapons at their disposal. Government and corp black ops want them, both as resource denial, but also for their intended purpose. Terrorist and insurgents want them as well as they can level the playing field in struggles against greater technological powers.
The American space force produced a large number of AHAB satellites, and these were tended by the ISHMAEL and PEQUOD programs, programs that did not end with the demise of the American superstate. The Glassenheim Foundation continued tracking and monitoring the existing satellites and other similar American weapons, ranging from mundane spy satellites to more outlandish space based death rays that were compete failures.
There are several reasons that all the AHABs havent been swept from orbit, despite there being multiple space cleaning efforts. The governments that have found operational AHABs have opted to keep them as their little secrets and slap claimed flags on them. Some have been found and moved, many taken to storage facilities where they wait. Being of a clandestine nature, many AHABs were piggybacked onto other satellites, many telecom and scientific satellites were funded by military budgets, so that they could very quietly be integrated into an American Homeland Defense Shield. Modern nations have noted this and used this same technique on some of their own horrorshow devices.
The AHAB presents players and storytellers with an antique WMD that defies the modern countermeasures of the Cosmic Era. Once dropped, a projectile guides itself, and is not smart. In fact, the harpoons are so dumb that modern computer systems cannot communicate with them. This allows for anyone to have their finger on a trigger for a kiloton weapon. This will destroy bunkers, sink ships, reduce mecha to scrap metal, and hit an armored infantry company like TNT stuck in an ant bed.
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