"The Shattie Skyslip"
Jordan S. Bassior
(the following was taken from a popular guidesim to Outie weapons systems published by Northam Berlds in 2290)
The Shattie Skyslip is perhaps the ultimate aerospace fighter. It is optimized for Saturnian atmospheric conditions. Massing around just 500 metric tones, and shaped something like a triangular seed pod, its hull is composed entirely of woven carbon nanofiber under a silicon nanofiber sleeve, offering only the most minimum radar signature, even with its advanced electromagnetic cloaking device turned off. The lack of significant metal in its construction greatly augments its stealth.
A Skyslip is powered by an onboard lithium-boosted dual-fuel (deuterium-tritium and deuterium-helium) nuclear fusion vortex reactor. Airscoops can suck in and an onboard purifier separate out fusion fuel in flight through the Saturnian atmosphere, rendering the Skyslip independent of fixed refueling stations. Energy can be stored in a nanobloc chemical matrix; some Skyslips have recently been fitted with positron coil batteries at the expense of some of their stealth.
Skyslips are equipped with plasma rocket engines, capable of indefinite cruising at up to 2G thrust and boost up to 5G with fusion afterburners. They are thus physically capable of attaining Saturnian orbit or even escape velocity, but are not well-suited for warfare outside the Saturnian atmosphere and hence would rarely do so in actual military operations. Their engines boast a turbofan stealth mode, workable only in atmosphere, which greatly reduces speed but results in them leaving almost no detectable drive wake. A deformable surface control system (Defscos) coupled with strategically-placed vents allowing all-aspect vectoring in forward flight (viffing) makes the Skyslip incredibly maneuverable.
Maintenance is extremely easy, because a Skyslip is semi-alive. A mechanical lymphatic and circulatory system enables nanoscale damage-control bots to reach every part of its hull and machinery, repeairing any damage or wear from usage, given time and the proper feedstock materials. It carries a certain quantity of these materials aboard in its own stores, and can take on more at need. Bases, termed “stables,” hold ample “feed” and the “grooming vats” enabling repair of major damage; also “breeding vats” enable new Skyslips to be produced, or even reproduced in the organic sense, as they can be cloned and combined from existing designs.
Skyslips are controlled by advanced neurolinkage, for which the Shattie brain is opitimized (a non-Shattie could control a Skyslip, but rarely with such speed and efficiency). Since the Skyslip itself has a full aint brain, pilot and slip are alike linked by a strong bond, emotional on both sides. A Shattie’s Skyslip is his best friend and closest ally: a relationship generally even more intimate than even one of the Shatties’ hermaphroditic love affairs. Shattie without Slip or Slip without Shattie is bereft, and every attempt is made to re-mate the surviving widow of such a pair.
The main armament is typically a single capacitor-fed 30-GW pulse cosmer (cosmic-ray laser), often termed a “stinger,” and ultimately supplied to the Shatties by the American Mandate, as their native arms technology is not up to producing such an advanced and powerful weapons system, built to stealth specifications so that it contains little metal and is hard to detect until it fires. Secondary armament includes up to three 250-MW beam x-rasers, in defensive mountings atop the tail and on each wingtip. Cosmer or even disruptor torpedoes may be carried externally (at some expense to performance and much to stealth) and 250-KT to 5-MT tactical AAM’s (air-to-air missiles) are commonly shipped in the internal bays, where they cannot compromise stealth.
Shattie aerial tactics are more about maneuver and precision than raw firepower. Ideally, the Shattie uses stealth to put hes Slip close behind the foe and take him down with one or two shots from his stinger. Torpeodes and even missiles are mostly reserved for larger and slower targets than fighters. A 25-GW cosmer can do fearsome damage to other small craft; well-placed shots can threaten even warships – and the Shatties are crack shots.
Skyslips carry almost no armor protection, save for the minimum to enable them to survive maneuvers at speed through the Saturnian atmosphere. Shielding is rarely switched on save for in actual pitched battle, because it would too greatly compromise stealth, and generally consists of some sort of electrodynamic flash or pulse system for the outer and electrostatic steady system for the inner course. Shields are however de-emphasized in the design and are thus weak even by small-craft standards.
The survival of Skyslips in air fighting thus depends tremendously on active defense against missiles, rapid precision shooting to take down enemy beam platforms, and extremely-violent maneuver to deny enemy beams precise shots along clear lines of fire. In the Saturnian atmosphere and with Shattie pilots, squadrons of Skyslips are lethal threats: in open space, or with less-talented pilots, Skyslips would be death-traps, a fact of which the Shatties are most painfully aware.
Skyslips are not well-suited to the American way of war, or even life. We are justly proud of the Mandatial Forces, officered by the best our elite breed and crewed by humans gennied to be perfectly loyal, perfectly-obedient and perfectly-efficient soldiers. But they have enabled the Shatties to win and keep their independence against the decadent Corporate Republic of Titan, and manned by our allies, they help defend American interests out beyond the Jovian system, where the wild Outies dwell.
We salute them.