Adam Murton takes; us through the weapons of the Freeborn in this two-part article – from the viewpoint of an unscrupulous Freeborn weapons trader.
If you missed the first part, try here.
Trader Ralea led the remaining two buyers towards the centre of the exhibition area and the high-tech equipment. “High Chancellor Kirpheen, General Partig – I can see you two want some of our more specialized weapons.” Neither seemed to be too happy being with each other and kept to either side of her. The dislike was hardly surprising, whispered the feed into her earpiece: the Algoryn was General Partig of Mavvol, a renegade raider, and the Chancellor was from Wulbun, a planet that had recently been a target for Partig’s punitive raids!
Ralea focused on Kirpheen. “I believe Wulbun is a highly urbanized planet, Chancellor, your main threat being off- world raiders.” She deliberately avoided eye contact with Partig but neither appeared embarrassed to be purchasing weapons that could potentially be used against each other.
“It is, indeed,” said Kirpheen. He inclined his head towards her. “Do you have something that might suit our needs especially?”
|Standard Weapon||– Range –|
|Compression Carbine||10||30||50||1xSV3/2/1||–||No Cover|
“For an urbanized environment may I recommend two categories of weapons. Compression weapons for dealing with targets in cover and fractal weapons.” Ralea gestured slowly, even seductively, towards the display. “Shall we start with some of the most advanced weapons in the Antarean universe? The hand held weapon is the compression carbine, typically fielded by a few command squads in Freeborn forces. I’m sure you are aware, though, that the Askar Protector-Warriors – the mercenaries – are also particularly fond of it, too. Close up it packs a significant punch and the compression beam means it destroys any cover your target may be cowering behind.” She ignored the snort from General Partig and led the two further along the display. “In my opinion, where compression weaponry truly comes into its own is at the support or heavy support weapon grade. These are the compression cannon and compression bombard.” Ralea stood between the two and leant on the massive bombard.
|Weapon||– Range –|
|Compression cannon (Support)||20||40||80||1xSV8/5/3||–||Fade, No Cover|
|Compression bombard (Heavy)||30||80||150||1xSV10/7/5||–||Fade, Large Move 4, No Cover|
“The compression technology used in storage and mining, is weaponised, shrinking a section of the target down to a fraction of its original size – often catastrophically. Any cover the target may be behind is irrelevant. They are extremely powerful at close range although obviously not within the minimum focal range of the weapon.” She waited for the pair to examine the massive weapons.
As she turned away to the next display, she heard a snarl from the Raider General, “Aren’t you going to mention the compression cycle? Actually tell the Wulbun how the weapon drops out when you most need it!”
“Of course,” said Ralea. “I was coming to that point. The more powerful compression weapons, cannot maintain the immense level of destructive power indefinitely and, as a safeguard, they do cycle through a phase where the compression field reduces below the optimum level. Our research shows that compression fields are operable 90% of the time. In the vast majority of cases where it does reduce, such down phases last only for seconds.” She smiled and led the pair onwards.
“The other weapons extremely suited for an urbanised environment are fractal weapons. These are primarily anti-structural and are only available at support weapon grade or larger.”
|Weapon||– Range –|
|Fractal Cannon (Support)||20||30||50||1xSV4+3||–||Fractal Lock, Breaching SV5+4|
|Fractal Disintegrator (Heavy)||50||100||200||1xSV5+3||–||Fractal Lock, Breaching SV7+4, Large|
“May I present the fractal cannon and fractal disintegrator? These are relatively slow weapons which build in intensity and destructive power over time. You only need to hit your target once, thereafter a fractal lock is established and, assuming neither the shooter nor the target move, the fractal weapon will continue to inflict substantial damage on the target without the need to re-target. They are at their most effective against stationary or heavily pinned targets. They also work well in combination with grip munitions. Alternatively, High Chancellor, they can be used to encourage an enemy heavy weapons team to move – thus preventing them from firing.”
Kirpheen nodded his thanks, and turned back to the compression weapons. “We have the resources to purchase and maintain these, I think.”
“Ah, a fine choice!” said Ralea, and motioned for another sales clerk to take over. “Please let my assistant deal with your specific order and any particular questions you may have.” She turned to General Partig, who scowled at her.
“You have shown your wares to these vainglorious fools and you have kept me waiting,” said the general. Ralea nodded deferentially. She declined to mention that he was purchasing for a force of maybe thirty raiders whilst the Chanceller was buying for a whole world. “I’m a raider,” continued Partig. “I don’t want specialist support weapons and bombards.”
“Of course General. I can see that you want something highly effective on a soldier-to-soldier basis which has no real need for the rigours of a long-term conflict. Short, sharp and impactful is what you need. I have been saving two sections which I feel would suit you.” She glided deeper into the mesh of displays and towards the rear wall of the exhibition area. “Light, but powerful and versatile pretty much defines the plasma classification, I think. I know some armies avoid them for prolonged campaigns in the field, but for small elite formations such as yours the plasma carbine and the plasma pistol are ideal.” She picked up one of each and demonstrated. “We could source these in almost any pattern you wish – Concord, Isorian or even,” she paused, “Algoryn.”
|Weapon||– Range –|
|Plasma pistol (Standard)||10||20||30||1xSV2||1xSV2||–|
|Plasma carbine (focused) (Standard)||20||30||50||1xSV2||–||–|
|Plasma carbine (scatter) (Standard)||20||30||–||2xSV0||–||RF|
“I hope I do not tell you what you already know, but the carbine has two firing modes: a single shot with twice the power of the mag-gun for armoured opponents, or rapid fire with minimal power which is very useful against un-armoured hordes. The carbine can be provided mounted on a gun drone, of course.” On cue, one buzzed past them at head-height. “Plasma pistols only have the single shot mode and similar punch to the carbine; but as one would expect shorter ranges, which is clearly less of an issue in ship-bound combat. Also, like all pistols, they are easy to wield in close combat.” She took him further on, into an annexe to the main floor. He followed, his gaze instantly darting to the heavier plasma weaponry he could glimpse ahead. Ralea noticed the flicker of interest and suppressed; a smile: the prey was taking the bait.
|Weapon||– Range –|
|Plasma Lance (lance mode)* (Standard)||20||30||–||1xSV4||–||Choose target, Inaccurate, Breaching|
|Plasma Lance (scatter) (Standard)||20||30||–||2xSV0||–||RF|
|Plasma Lance (focused) (Standard)||20||30||50||1xSV2||–||–|
|Plasma Light Support (Support)||30||40||80||3xSV3||–||RF, PBS, Power Drain|
“For bigger raids, we have the plasma lance and plasma light support, both of which are normally vehicle mounted – for a reasonable fee, for course. The lance has the same fire modes as the carbine and a third intense mode with twice the power of the single shot: if carried by a trooper on foot, we would recommend it is carried by a trooper with some strength, despite the internal compensators.
“The light support version is also available as a crewed weapon. It has the same rate of fire as the mag rail equivalent but significantly increased penetration.” She pointed to a version a little further over. “I’m sure you recognise the Algoryn-pattern plasma light support over there.”
Ralea led Partig past the plasma light support, then deeper into the annex and past the heavier versions: the plasma cannon and plasma bombard. Neither were the weapons of raiders. To infantry they would inflict similar damage to the mag-cannon and, no doubt, the General would have merely commented on plasma fade, where the coils on the larger weapons needed to recharge. It was easier just not to mention them.
|Weapon||– Range –|
|Plasma Cannon (Support)||30||40||80||1xSV7||–||–|
|Plasma Bombard (Heavy)||50||100||200||1xSV9||–||Large, Move 4|
Nonetheless, as they passed the heavy plasma weapons, General Partig growled. “Cursed fade,” he said. “They are useless.” The derogatory comments made what she was about to do easier: after all it would be a shame to lose a customer. She kept her tone bright and cheerful as she pointed to the armour and hand weapons mounted on the rear wall, beyond some weathered old rugs. “Of course, we have reflex armour offering good protection from most low-grade weaponry, the reflex shield being a highly cost-effective form of defence. If you wish, we can supply impact cloaks with surface-transducers to extend the reflex shielding for hand-to-hand combat and, sometimes, we can get hold of Concord hyperlight armour – intelligent, adaptable—”
“What’s that?” growled Partig, pointing to a flat partition studded with projectors.
“That’s experimental hyperlight blast shielding. It takes the principles of hyperlight and applies them to a flat wall. Not as mobile as armour, but—”
“Useless, then,” said Partig.
|Weapon||– Range –|
|X-sling Direct (Standard)||10||20||–||Spec||Spec||Inaccurate, Spec,: as grenade or Slingnet (+1 pin)|
|Plasma Grenade (Grenade)||5||–||–||1xSV1||1xSV1||Compound SV|
Ralea cleared her throat and fixed her smile. “Probably, General, of limited use for you, yes. However, for truly up close and personal we have the classic maglash, the x-sling and the old favourite plasma grenades. We give maglashes to those units which will close with the enemy such as Skark Riders and they may, of course, be useful for your raiders. A fighter armed with a maglash can make double the number of strikes in melee and each blow has the same damaging potential as a mag gun – and it even has a short ranged attacked in the hands of a skilled user.”
“On the other hand, I’m sure you are aware of the X-sling as a short range blast weapon. It has minimal armour penetration, but the explosion and optional special munitions can be useful – not that we use much ourselves, of course.” Ralea pointed to the X-slings on the rear wall. “We have a new model there you might wish to examine.” Partig stalked across to the mounted display, glowering as he did so, and failed to notice Ralea duck behind the blast shield. As he crossed the rug, Ralea continued her patter. “We also have plasma grenades which are useful at very short ranges when thrown – and useful as anti-personnel mines, of course.”
She doubted that the Raider General heard the end of the statement, what with the plasma explosion and all.
Running footsteps came from the main display floor and she stepped out from behind the blast shielding. High Chancellor Kirpheen rushed into the annex and abruptly stopped when he saw the burnt corpse of General Partig. The clerk ran up behind, a data slab in hand. Ralea bowed to the Chancellor as she gestured to the charred remains of Wulbun’s enemy. “High Chancellor, please consider this a sweetener, with the compliments of Vardos Cadix.”
Kirpheen glanced from the corpse to Ralea, then back again. He bowed. “My thanks to Vardos Cadix. Your help is appreciated.”
“Wonderful,” said Ralea. She took his arm and led him from the annex. “Now, can I draw your attention to other territory denial weapons and also to our range of bespoke assassination services…”
An unscrupulous dealer, indeed!