A Killing Wind
Ship to ship combat in the vacuum is exceedingly rare. Space ships are million-Junket ventures that aren’t lightly thrown into battle. Even the great corporate fleets rarely find themselves in protracted conflict.
Further, space is vast. Distances at which ships can detect one another far exceed the ability of conventional weapons for accuracy and aim; long seconds or even minutes may pass before a missile or rail-projectile arrives at an anticipated target location only to find the ship long ago changed its vector.
For this reason, space combat focuses on three things: remotes, probes, and electronics. Most space battle opens far outside of weapons range. As soon as conflict is suspected, ships shed probes like spawning fish, littering the immediate area with eyes and telemetry readers. At the same time, ships usually begin launching drones, mines, and cold heatseeking missiles. During this period, a defensive ship may go so far as to drop EMP chaff to hide behind.
Immediately following or prior to this event, electronic warfare begins. Ships jockey to position their communications lasers to lock onto the opponents comm array and begin the process of hacking the enemy ship’s main systems, ordering them to shut down or misfire. This stage, too, can see the harnessing of communication lasers toward military purpose: namely, raking them across any exposed photocell sensors or photovoltaic panels to overload or damage them.
Most ships are hesitant to close before electronic superiority is established, rather than risking damage to either prize. However, at this stage there are pirates who will approach crippled or fleeing ships and attempt to engage conventional weapons, or even to mag-lock and board.
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