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Spooky Kittens by MikeDoscher Spooky Kittens by MikeDoscher
Death in a perfect sunset, somewhere at the edge of the Venusian atmosphere.

Italian short range fighters with oversize Le Prieur rockets attack an Austro-Hungarian air vessel during the blockade of Phobos by the Central Powers. Smuggled aboard a cargo vessel, the 'Gattina Spettrale' squadron was not particular effective against the forces there, but the presence of allied fighters so far inside their own lines had the Imperial forces searching for carriers that didn't exist for nearly a month. This splitting of their fleet made the blockade untenable, and Phobos was relieved.
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:iconfugknight:
FugKnight Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2015
This will always be my favourite piece, especially the story behind it
I shed a tear for those brave italians, I mean, how could they ever return?
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:iconmikedoscher:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2015  Professional General Artist
I'm so glad you like it.

Many of the pilots did survive, but only through nerve and luck. The atmosphere ate into the metal, and those that made it back did so by over revving their engines and balancing upon them like rockets. Their wings were so pitted and fragile they were said to have looked almost skeletal when they crash landed back on the freighter. None might have made it back without the bravery of the freighter captain who came after them, not only halving the distance of their return journey but spooking the enemy into thinking their was a warship come to nibble on their flanks as well.

Those that did survive their adventure did not do so unscathed, whether it was chemical burns to the skin or the lungs, and few lived to be very old, whether felled by pneumonia or laudanum. There was distinction to their wounds though, and the hoarseness of an old man's voice coming from a young pilot entered popular idiom as the 'voce dell'arcangelo' and incurred great respect.
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:iconmerc-king:
Merc-King Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2014
Unknown to the Austro-Hungarian force, those Italian jets are actually from Arturo's Pizza delivery service. Arturo Pizza, we will deliver your pizza in 45 minutes or it's free!
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:iconmikedoscher:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2014  Professional General Artist
Great, I'm halfway expecting a DiGiorno's commercial to come one where what they thought was a raid turned out to actually just be frozen pizza.

Damn you, internet.
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:iconthelasthokuten:
TheLastHokuten Featured By Owner Edited Nov 2, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I like the emotion of the pilot in this, his posture and gesturing, and seeing an airship diving is just intense.
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:iconrevealedfromthevoy:
RevealedFromtheVoy Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I love the design of the fighters and the pilot in it ^^
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:iconperttime:
perttime Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014
I mainly see the fighter design - and I love it!

The bar in the front looks like a docking device?
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:iconmikedoscher:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2014  Professional General Artist
Yes, though mostly the clamp there is for launching the vessel. The freighter they were launched from used an inclined ramp and the fighter was attached to a trolley on it. The trolley was in turn attached to a weight with a steel cable. The launch was accomplished with the weight being dropped over the side of the launch vessel. Because of the downward slope of the ramp, this could be only done in the air and in a gravity well.
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:iconmaximilian-k:
Maximilian-K Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Is this a reference to Italian saboteurs who rode torpedoes to infiltrate enemy harbours? I know the bulk of that happened in WW2, but the idea itself was pioneered in WW1 when such a unit sank the Austro-Hungarian battleship "Viribus Unitis".
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:iconmikedoscher:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2014  Professional General Artist
It's an echo of them, as well as a couple other audacious operations that while not wholly successful, made the enemy modify or abandon their plans. I was also thinking of the submarine 'Turtle' from the Revolutionary War and the use of modified Spitfires to intercept German reconnaissance aircraft overflying England at very high altitudes.

I suppose I was also thinking about the uses of deception in a broader sense to restrict the actions of your opponent.
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:iconjepray:
Jepray Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
it reminds me of a vanship, from  "Last Exile" :D love it
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:iconthelasthokuten:
TheLastHokuten Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Heh, I'm getting those vibes myself.
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:iconbrady-kj:
Brady-Kj Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Neat! What's the backstory here? It's clearly an alternate history with an apparent WWI in space.
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:iconmikedoscher:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thanks. :) It's part of an attempt to explore how history (and particularly World War I) might have differed following the events of The War of the Worlds.
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:iconbrady-kj:
Brady-Kj Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Ooohhh!Submit Comment Cool! I wasn't expecting a logical explanation.
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:iconjailgurdnegative:
jailgurdnegative Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2014  Hobbyist
Wowzer, those sky bikes are really cool. Would want to ride one if I get the chance. 
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:icond3m0nhunt3r117:
D3M0NHUNT3R117 Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014
Sweet! :wow:
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:iconmarzipanzers:
Marzipanzers Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Fratelli d'Italia,
l'Italia s'è desta,...
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:icongromgorefiend:
Gromgorefiend Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014
Very nice.
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:iconlancelotprice:
LancelotPrice Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014
The pilots appear to be wearing jetpacks, as though they were fully prepared to sacrifice the planes. Kamikaze?
-----
Cool image and designs.
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:iconmikedoscher:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2014  Professional General Artist
I'm sure that this was something that was in the back of the pilots' minds, but might not have been openly discussed. The packs lack the fuel for sustained flight, but are good for long jumps or slowing your descent. As the fighters were smuggled in by freighter and launched by sliding them over the side, recovery of the entire fighter could have been problematic. It was thought that the packs would alloy the pilots to leap off near the recovery ship and be caught by cargo nets spread between the ships cranes.
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:iconlancelotprice:
LancelotPrice Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014
A risky procedure, those net catches. ;)
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:iconmikedoscher:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014  Professional General Artist
It was probably suicidal, but it the end they ended up not having to use them. Between the weight lost from reaction mass used and more acid corrosion than anticipated, the fighters had such light wing loading when they returned that it was a simple matter to turn the recovery ship into the wind and have them land on the deck. Stall speed relative to the ship was barely a walk, and the deck crew basically grabbed the wings when the fighters came in.
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:iconlancelotprice:
LancelotPrice Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014
Damned good piloting! :)
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:icontsskies:
tsskies Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014
Awesome stuff, very creative, wish more movies would have your sense of style when it came to vehicle design!
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:iconmikedoscher:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thank you so much. I think we're entering into an interesting new age, where computing power is cheap enough and collaboration between remote teams is easy enough that it becomes possible to do things we couldn't have before.
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:iconsagittarius-a-star:
Sagittarius-A-star Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Awesome painting, those fighters are pretty cute actually... :D Question, is the Venus in this world the Venus we know with the hot, crushing, poisonous 100-bar CO2 atmosphere that makes the surface unlivable and almost unreachable, or one of the more romantic earlier conceptions of Venus as a slightly warmer habitable world with oceans and jungles (and maybe natives)?
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:iconmikedoscher:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2014  Professional General Artist
It's something in between, really. This is a somewhat romanticized illustration of a real (in universe) battle over an actual place that the in-universe illustrator never saw.

I'm intrigued by some of the ideas I'd read about Venus at the level of the upper atmosphere where the pressure is more like that of Earth at sea level. I'd developed some ideas for massive aerostats here for my Titan City continuity, but also figured it was one of the few places you could use zeppelin battleships with a straight face. Slightly closer to the surface, it does provide a somewhat thicker medium for stubby wings and keep wind loading out of the realm of the suicidal. Naturally, the materials used need to be highly resistant to acid. Enamels and ceramics are most common.

I guess you could say it's an unrealistic memory of something potentially plausible. The whole book is a sort of framing device, though I hope I leave things open enough that the reader has some viable options for deciding how reliable the narrator is.
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:iconsagittarius-a-star:
Sagittarius-A-star Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Interesting, I like that way of framing it. :) Funnily enough, since Venus's atmosphere is composed of carbon dioxide, the oxygen-nitrogen mixture we breath is a lifting gas on Venus.  This has lead the space researcher Geoffrey Landis to author a paper on colonizing Venus in giant balloon cities... you've probably seen it, right?  Not sure I'd want to live there, though.  Wouldn't want to fall off and end up acid-etched and crushed before I even hit the ground. XD

All the same, massive aerostats are very cool.  I'd love to see how you use 'em in your Titan City continuity.  And it is hard to beat zeppelin battleships, too. 

Oh, by the way, those pilots look pretty exposed- are they wearing suits to protect them from acid? 
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:iconmikedoscher:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2014  Professional General Artist
I'd seen some of that, yeah. It's one of those things that seems like it could work, but has little margin for error. Yeah, the suits are both protective and airtight. Waterproofed leather and rubber, with an alkaline buffer. The alloy skin of the vessels are also coated with an enamel to slow the rate of corrosion to at least acceptable levels for this mission.
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:iconmetalsnail:
MetalSnail Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Very nice work, and great colours!
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:iconsexual-yeti:
Sexual-Yeti Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Goodthing they are in the upper atmosphere or else things would be getting real hot real soon!
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:icon1wyrmshadow1:
1Wyrmshadow1 Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014
wait wait wait, Phobos? But this is on Venus. Lucy you got some splaining to do. Or was this a diversionary attack to draw the blockade away from Mars?
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:iconmikedoscher:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014  Professional General Artist
Yeah, the latter. Because of the nature of their early warning system, the Central Powers thought they had the innermost planets sewn up. The technology was new enough that they didn't fully trust it though, so you had a scenario like this happen.
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:iconvdk633:
VDK633 Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014   Writer
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:iconmikedoscher:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014  Professional General Artist
Ha ha, awesome. :)
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:iconvdk633:
VDK633 Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014   Writer
SNES Star Fox for the win.
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