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January 3, 2010
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Neptune Intercept by MikeDoscher Neptune Intercept by MikeDoscher
Here a pair of aging Panastra QF-108 'Vulture' interceptors have intercepted and shot down one of the Federation 'smart mines' launched in great quantities during the Minute War. Blurring the line between area denial and terror weapons, the mines were designed to destroy commercial and military targets in Neptune's Lagrange points. Most mines never reached their targets, and nearly as many are still a threat: Their elliptical orbits they were placed in ensures that many will still be seeking their quarry for at least another decade.

While not intelligent as such, the mines are controlled by a sufficiently sophisticated expert system that the most effective way to combat them is to make a very high speed approach from outside their sensor range. An energy weapon discharged from an interceptor traveling at a significant fraction of c will almost always give the mine insufficient time to arm itself or maneuver before it's destroyed. Fortunately, the warheads used by the Federation were relatively fragile. Even light damage will tend to rupture the pressure vessels that hold the deuterium booster, causing it to boil harmlessly into space.

The Vultures themselves are another relic of this conflict, with a handful of pilots flying ships older than their grandfathers, still fighting a war that's been over for sixty years. They are visible from Neptune Trojans with the naked eye when they first burn their boost engines, flares of bright radiance against the deeper of Neptune itself. Bets are placed among the station crews at Hatross and Bodie as to the results of each sighting, one army of ghosts fighting another in the blue night.
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:iconimpguy101:
Impguy101 Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2013
Nice fighter! The bidy reminds me a lot of an E-Wing. And those guns... Sniper Fighter!!
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:iconbeltminer:
beltminer Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2012
wonderful artwork, however the analytic gronespiel wont work with the hydrostatic gazabblefritz in this iteration. not to mention the lack of a kniplin brace on the kapalnits....so.....
g
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:iconsagittarius-a-star:
Sagittarius-A-star Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Neat fighter!! So the Vulture pilots are still cleaning up the many remaining "smart mines", even sixty years after the conflict ended- that is rather similar to how land mines and other undetonated ordinance remains on battlefields on Earth, still claiming lives many years after the wars they were used in ended. What manner of weapons does the fighter carry? The description mentions energy weapons, but the long barrels don't really look much like lasers. Perhaps the Vultures carry some kind of particle beam weapon?

I have a question- is the space fighter supposed to be traveling at a significant fraction of C, or is the shot from the energy weapon? I would be very, very careful about throwing around big words like "fraction of C", because the implied speeds and energies are much greater than you would at first imagine. Accelerating to a significant fraction of C at accelerations survivable to a human would take many months, the ship would cover an enormous distance (well beyond Neptune orbit, if not out of our solar system altogether!!), the fighter would consume enormous amounts of energy, and if the fighter should hit anything it would release many thousands of gigatons of explosive force on the target- just as any other relativistic weapon would. C makes for an awfully long lever, and spaceships capable of traveling at relativistic velocities become planet-killers fairly quickly. The pilot would not even be able to aim at the mine, since the ship would flash past the mine in a fraction of a second. Fortunately, a small manned space fighter could never carry enough fuel to reach relativistic velocities, and ships with any sort of realistic propulsion system will likely be moving at only minute fractions of C relative to each other.
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:iconmikedoscher:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
I'm sure you're right. This is a piece of the background information that will get a revision once I actually do the math. I figured the fighters might be going between 3% and 5% the speed of light, but I'm not sure that amount of acceleration would be survivable for an unmodified human. I had figured that the fighters themselves would be brought up to speed by launchers that incorporated mass drivers or were accelerated by laser. In the end it's very likely that the numbers are just too improbable to do anything with. Thanks for pointing this out. :)

As far as the mines go, landmines were one inspiration. I was also intrigued by the dangers posed by WWII era wrecks filled with munitions (the CHASE program, as well as u-boat kills) combined with the neurotic planet busting charges from Dark Star.

Thank you for bringing this all up. It's a bit of a tightrope act I suppose, getting the physics (somewhat) right but into a package that the audience won't need too much exposition for, etc.
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:iconrkraptor70:
rkraptor70 Featured By Owner May 2, 2012  Hobbyist
looks kinda like a fusion of the colonial viper Mk-II from new BSG and the E-wing from star wars to me.

Nevertheless its a Beautiful artwork.
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:iconmedjugore:
Medjugore Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Masterpiece! Look like Star Wars gunship, is it part of a graphic novel you are drawing and editing? Because the story you quote seems to explain a more detailed story..
Nice shot anyway
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:iconmikedoscher:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks. :) Yeah, it's an illustration from a book project I'm working on. The plan at least is to do a series of two or four page spreads, each with a written vignette and accompanying illustrations. These would all be set in the same world, and further a sort of meta story between them.
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:iconslowhand-solo:
SlowHand-Solo Featured By Owner May 30, 2010
"one army of ghosts fighting another in the blue night."
Damn...........

Would you just write a book already?!
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:iconmikedoscher:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2010  Professional General Artist
I really need to. I think it's the only way I'm going to keep my brains from leaking out. XD
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:iconslowhand-solo:
SlowHand-Solo Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2010
Well when you do, I'll be waiting here to get the first signed copy!

Cheers mate!
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