K Type Small Craft
The K-Type small craft was pioneered on the Silk Road for defense against the anti-smuggler and anti-pirate forces deployed by the various nations of the Solar System. Lacking the ability to build their own warships, or having high tech labs designing new craft and new technologies, those desperate and depraved enough created the K Type craft. The design is relatively simple, a a-pod craft is equipped with thrust boosters, non-essential equipment is removed, and the pilot is equipped with a survival suit. All of the rest of the craft's internal space and lift capacity is taken up by a high power conventional explosive device. There the only a small group of people who pilot K-types. There are zealots and fanatics who consider dying for their cause a path to martyrdom or sainthood. There are those who are terrorized into performing suicide attacks, generally under the guise of protecting their families. There are also demi-sentient (expensive) droids that can also do the job.
The K-type is a common fear of merchant marines and shipping authorities. The conventional explosives are hard to detect at range, and the majority of K craft are made from commonly available civilian vehicles. This makes it disturbingly easy for a civie shuttle to move into docking range with a ship before ramming into the side of the ship and exploding. Even when damage is light and there are no casualties, the explosion is noticed, ships can be damaged, and there are black eyes handed out through the daily discourse. The majority of such craft are shot down, fail to detonate, and generally miss their intended targets. The small number that reach their targets and explode give rise to the fear of the small craft.
Raiu Type Small Craft
Raiu, or Nipponese for Thunderstorm, are small craft that are armed with anti-ship weaponry. The Raiu is similar to the K-type, but rather than primitive explosives, the craft is armed with anti-ship missiles, or single shot energy weapons. These weapons generally only work at point blank range, and unless the target is seriously damaged, the Raiu is generally not able to survive counter-attack. These ships were originally designed as defensive craft for merchant marine ships, and other military ships that warrant an additional layer of defense. Planners matched them with the kanmusu series ships, but found their performance was not worth the amount of internal space they required. The plans got out and were spread across the silk road, so the Raiu, in various hulls and patterns made it into pirate and mercenary hands.
The Raiu is not entirely uncommon. The concept of putting large weapons on small craft isn't new, and the main aspect of the design that draws them into the suicide craft category is the often poor construction of the black market ships, and that said black market ships are facing off against federal and national navies, which are better armed and equipped. Only the surprise and shock value of the Raiu makes them a viable threat. Many mercenary units have a contingent of this type of craft, a kaze or similar flight vehicle armed with these heavy weapons to use as a reflex force, where they can be called in short order to provide 3 seconds of overwhelming fire support, for a fraction of the cost of an actual military dropship or carry-all.
The dragonnade suit is a highly modified encounter suit typically with additional plates of standard light armor to ensure the trooper inside reaches their intended target. The suit is deliberately small and low profile, intended to blend into the terrain and not be noticed. As such, it doesn't have any sort of smart gear, no cognet integration, or even an internal power supply, everything is up to the trooper wearing the suit. The troops seldon carry more than a light basic rifle or standard issue side arms. The main weapon of the suit is the high explosive charge carried in the backpack. When the trooper gets into position, they fix the charge to the end of a telescopic rod, and when the target arrives, they stab the target with the satchel charge. This a human powered version of a mobile mine and very few Dragonnaders survive their first mission. There are aquatic and space versions of this suit and training regime.
The Dragonnade suit is for desperate ambushes, as the more powerful the explosive, the more effective the unit. A well placed group of these suicide troopers can damage mobile armor and mecha by targeting feet and drive systems. Likewise, few power armors can survive being hit with a dragon charge. This is a tool for the desperate fighting against terrible odds, with nothing to lose.
More a technique than purpose built machines, to be a Kamikaze is to turn whatever vehicle is being piloted into a suicidal attack craft. This can be done with almost any sort of military vehicle, with varying degrees of effectiveness. In the Cosmic Era, this can be frighteningly effective, as it is a highly and completely irrational act that few systems will have contingencies and countermeasures for. The capabilities of CE vehicles can also make this terrifying. The most ideal Kamikaze weapon is a stolen battlemech. The weapon isn't the mech itself, but rather either the fusion reactor, or the Dimensional reactor powering it. Both, in the wrong hands, can be forced into overload and explode. The fusion reactor will explode in a kiloton range blast, making it highly destructive. (This requires the safety systems to be disengaged, and for the overload to be manually triggered, this requires several hours access to the powerplant and a sufficiently high technical skill to do so). The Dimensional reactor will typically implode, a much small destructive event, but will typically trigger a dimensional fatigue event, which can be dramatically worse than a bomb going off. This requires the same access to the machine, but a skilled arcanotechnician to bypass safety features to insure the deliberate failure of the reactor.
Aerospace craft are a popular second choice, as they can have very high velocity, allowing them to make truly impressive ramming attacks. Against a civilian target, an aerospace craft clocking along at mach 5 can punch completely through a civilian ship and damage other vehicles in the vicinity with the shower of debris and following explosions. This is magnitudes worse in space as a single rogue craft can breach the hull of a station or habitat and kill a tremendous number of people. This is difficult to accomplish, but it is possible to do.
The Virginia Contingency was formed and attached to the Near Earth Space Supremacy Act, and added to the Tycho Conventions, creating a multi-national plan of action to prevent the sovereign space of the Human Homeworld from being attacked in a terrorist fashion with a large ship being used in a suicide attack against the planet. This was formed after it was discovered that the terrorist faction Amerikka Command was planning to steal the bulk cargo ship Virginia and use it in a suicidal (unmanned) ramming attack against a Federation outpost on Luna. The ship, grossing nearly 350,000 tons, would have hit the lunar surface traveling 8 kilometers per second, and the amount of damage would have been complete. The contingency allows for planetary defense networks to communicate with each other and respond to an incoming threat with all available assets. A ship of that mass striking anywhere on the planet would cause catastrophic ecological damage. NESS and VirgCon show that on rare occasions humanity can make a rational decision about common interests.
The WMD Question
The effectiveness of a suicide vector are limited to the richness of the target environment and the yield of the weapon used. Conventional weapons tend to become large and unwieldy, making them less effective the larger they are. The smaller weapons often do more damage in fear and terror than actual collateral damage and casualties. The Petroleum Era was stalked by the fear of the Briefcase Nuke, an atomic weapon small enough to be carried by a man. The Cosmic Era is similarly afraid of the destructive power of some arcanotech devices, most notably an Austerhagen Device small enough to be carried by a man, or mounted on a machine. Such devices exist, but they are few, highly protected, and in the possession of jealous military forces who refuse to share even with allies. A terrorist with a black hole bomb could completely wipe out a space station, bring down half an arcoplex, or remove a mundane city from the face of any planet. The fear is IF, the fear is WHEN.
This is a problem that plagued even the Imbrians, as their own society was largely undone by the terroristic use of Caldera Devices against the planets of the empire, until even the immortal and removed Dynasts themselves taste the fatal power of such weapons, turning their edenic garden palace world into the barren corpse of Luna.
Dimensional Fatigue and Rapid Response
DFEs are serious, and often it will come down to members of the reflex and rapid response teams sacrificing their lives to slow or stop the spread of a rupture. The use of suicide weapons and techniques can then show up using the best weapons and gear available to the world powers. In the worst case scenario, a Federation Reflex team might literally have an Austerhagen warhead mounted on the end of a building girder so that the last surviving Wolverine battlemech can charge the cosmic horror that has come spilling out of the ruined science lab and spear it with the bomb right before it detonates, devouring the monster, hero, and wreckage of the lab in one massive pulse of gamma radiation, light, and heat.
There are ways in the CE to get around the suicide part of Suicide attacks. There are clones, who are human, but suffer from social stigma to literally being subjected to nerve stapling and psychotronic programming and intimation procedures, making them lobotomized killers. Likewise, unwilling potential volunteers can have their brains scrambled with these procedures, or even have their psyche wiped and replaced with a Cohaagen apparatus so that they end up with the bady digital copy of a zealot's engram crammed in their creamed corn cerebrum. There are also robots that have enough intelligence to act in the stead of a human, though this typically involves getting inside the cortex of the robot and overriding the self preservation protocols and other systems that exist inside the programming to literally prevent this sort of thing from happening. A surrogate can be used so that a human can remote pilot the robot that is piloting a vehicle for a suicide attack, but this sort of angle is highly vulnerable to being jammed or signal hacked and shut down by cyberwarfare specialists.
Plots Hooks and Inspiration
The main inspiration for this sub was reading about the WWII Kaiten submarine. This was a one man Japanese sub that was functionally both a submarine and a torpedo, with the pilot guiding the Kaiten into the side of an enemy ship. This was desperation, as the US was gaining air superiority, and the Japanese were simply unable to keep pace with the losses of ships. Compared to a full size submarine or aircraft, a single Kaiten wasn't a large amount of resources to come up with, aside from exotic chemical reagents for it's chemical propulsion system. Likewise, there was a torpedo attack boat (short range) and a frogman with a bomb on a stick designed to destroy Higgens boats as they tried to come ashore. It was all quite mad and desperate, fitting for the weapons of the people who live along the Silk Road and live at odds with the major world powers of the Cosmic Era. They will use these things to level the playing field, and to protect their interests, and to make taking something like a wastelander fortress cost far more than it is worth.
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? Responses (2)-2
How common are suicide attacks in the Cosmic Era? 4/5
Not very, but they happen often enough that people make plans and have contingencies in place for them. Less commonly than happens today.