Whilst actively defending oneself is something that is sadly necessary, there is more than just that threatening the Fen. Of course, several Fen make their own defensive gear as the situation demands, but the most common stuff is commercial or military.
Personal defences break down into two categories: Circumstantial and Confrontational.
Given that the Fen live in space, the greatest single threat is Space itself. As such, various forms of space survival gear have been developed.
Bubble Packs are rapidly inflating survival capsules made of a memory plastic. They are good for up to 3 people, fitted with a pressure sensor, emergency beacon, and micro life support system good for up to 12 hours. Un-deployed they take up the same space as a small paperback book. These are reasonably popular as they can be fitted into various large pockets. It does ruin the pocket it was placed in if it activates, so some clothiers (including a few school uniform suppliers) have specific pockets sown into articles for that purpose.
Along a similar line are clothes marketed under SpaceSafe and similar labels. These are clothes waved to turn into a light space suit in an emergency. It is cheaper to perform this on a complete outfit but it can be done for all clothes from a single manufacturer. They contain memory plastic inserts that cover the extremities whilst bonding to the other parts of the outfit to create a pressure seal. Their main limitation is the lack of a real life support system, only having a rebreather good for 30 minutes without external air. They also wreck the cuffs/collars of the clothes when activated.
For those who work in areas where unexpected pressure loss is more likely (but not enough to need regular space suits), there are Undersuits. These are counter-pressure body-stockings that can be worn under normal clothes. These have some of the features of regular space suits, including a small life support system good for 18 hours, a temperature regulation system, and water supplies all normally in a camel pack integrated with the back. As these are more expensive, the emergency coverings are replaceable or reusable.
When dealing with somewhat annoyed Fen or others, something a bit more substantial is required. However, most like to keep it hidden that they're actually wearing armour. One thing most don't realise is that SpaceSafe type clothes and Undersuits are reasonably effective against guns and knives, enough to reduce injury in most cases.
ArmourCloth is the standard for actual concealed armour (for those that 'wave their clothes themselves), and comes in three grades:
- SheerSteel is the lightest version, and is typically used in Kunoichi-style fishnet bodysuits and 'invisible' covering on some Fuku.
- ArmourWeave is the regular fabric, covering everything from silks to heavy cotton. Due to a combination of enhanced materials, memory threads, and impregnated nano-particle fluid ArmourWeave is resistant to all common handguns and most military rifles that are not using armour piercing ammunition. This is because the memory threads and nano-particle fluid react to bullet impacts, hardening and spreading the impact over the entire surface.
- ProtekLeather is for heavier usage. It can take all that ArmourWeave can and more, for longer.
Given the normal needs of military-minded Fen, all the defensive suits double as space suits.
At the bottom end are Skinsuits, which are basically Undersuits made of lightweight ArmourWeave. These have a proper life support system (72 hours) and include a waste relief system and recycling system. This makes them almost uniformly despised due to the face they are mandated by nearly every armed force in Fenspace, and no-one likes dealing with the 'plumbing connections'. The Fen live with it because of the number of lives they save (along with the fact nearly all uniforms are made of ArmourCloth as well, which enhances protection discreetly).
Next up are BDUS or Battle Dress Utility Spacesuits, otherwise known as Buds Armour. This is (though OGJ standardisation) the basic armoured space suit of the Fen military forces. The specification calls for:
|“||A lightweight tactical spacesuit able to withstand standard level weapons, 5 days of life support with liquid rations dispenser, capable of letting the wearer survive in environments from Mercury to Pluto, and mounting all standardised equipment defined by this document.||”|
—OGJ Equipment Standards, 2014
Every recognised faction keeps to this basic standard. Depending on the faction, some use the standard mountings to add a light exo-frame.
Above this are Personal Armoured Power-Assist Systems. These include Silver Sentinel armour (Fen versions of the movie Iron Man suits), MJOLNIR armoured suits (used by the Spartans of the Cybers), and Hardsuits (as defined by the Stingray Project).
Added to these are Deflector Plates. These are memory metal, energy reinforced riot shields. Normally carried in compact form (a cylinder 30cm/1 foot long by 10cm/4 inches wide), it expands to a 4' by 2' shield.
The next level up are Landmates. These humanoid tanks are small scale Master-Slave controlled Exo-Frames, and (barely) fit in most Station corridors. However because they are full scale Exo-Frames, they are easy to use by most people and can carry large scale weapons as well as (with flight pack) manoeuvre effectively in space.
Normally, the very construction of a Fenship mitigates against all common environmental threats. However, some like to be sure.
Self-Sealing Hulls are the most common protective measure added to a vessel. This is normally a Wavetech foam placed in packets into the gaps between the hull and any internal fittings, or injected between layers of the hull. Thus if the hull is breached by mini-meteoroids the foam fills in the gap created, keeping in atmosphere.
Some people also install a Mag-Web, a magnetic field generating grid that helps protect against stronger than normal solar winds.
For those that worry about the effects of atmosphere on their paint jobs, there is CosmoPolish and the like. This adds a clear, non-reactive, semi-ceramic coating to the hull to help protect against corrosive atmospheres and harsher than normal re-entries.
While Handwavium allows one to turn the ship's skin into a practical armour, armour plate isn't often used. Most who need it tend to build the vessel with armour skin, so it is normally a quick and temporary enhancement.
|Sidebar: Point Defences|
|As the saying goes, "The Best Defence is a Good Offence". Point Defences follow the philosophy that it's better to not get hit at all, and use weaponry to destroy incoming fire. This can include Interceptors (specialised missile and cannon systems with high explosive warheads to destroy incoming fire), Close In Weapons Systems or CIWS (very rapid fire guns to destroy incoming ordinance through weight of fire), or FragShot weapons (working on the principle of causing the inbound weapon to destroy itself through having a cloud of shrapnel to fly through).|
When they are used, it is normally an ablative panel or a reactive armour pack. The former melts or vaporises on impact to disperse the energy of the strike, the latter contains some explosive substance to disrupt the strike.
Above this is the E-Web system. A stronger version of the Mag-Web system, it disrupts energy weapons to spread the energy across a larger section of the hull and can deflect some Coilgun/Railgun shots.
Next we have the Trekkie inspired Hull Polarisation system. This strengthens the hull by using an energy grid to align all the atoms in the hull the same way, temporarily turning the hull into a single molecule. This greatly increases hull strength, but the field can only take so much stress before the hull starts to depolarise. It also takes several seconds for the field to dissipate so that it can be refreshed. Damage to the hull does, of course, reduce the effectiveness of the system.
Finally, we come to Deflectors, also known simply as shields. The archetypal energy shielding system, they project a field around the vessel (normally ovoid for better direct coverage) to prevent fire from reaching the hull. How they do this varies by manufacturer, so some stop fast moving projectiles but are near-useless against lasers and some are the opposite, some try to deflect incoming fire, and some are simply walls that get worn away. The main limitations are the large amount of energy needed to run the system, and the fact that there is normally a simple way through.
Depending on your point of view, there are three classes of Defence: Proactive (doing something to stop incoming attacks), Reactive (responding to something that has attacked), and Preventative (stopping you from being attacked). For the preventative side of things, that mostly means either deception (by making it look like attacking you would be a bad thing or not worth it) or stealth (by making it look like there's nothing there to attack.
On a simple level special materials, construction techniques, and design can be enough to discourage attack by making you appear as something else. This works both ways because if the military and the public use the same ships, do you want to take the risk the lone tramp freighter hanging temptingly in space before you is not actually a patrol ship with concealed weapons?
Disguise techniques are always in fashion, but one of the new toys coming out are Holo Fields. In essence they are advanced holographic projection systems optimised to change the appearance of, or to camouflage an object.
Wavetech scanners abound in Fenspace, and as such so do Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) to fool them. These work by either cancelling the sensor signals to prevent a return or sending a false return to confuse the system.
Finally we have the Cloaking Device. People can't attack what they don't know is there. The precise techniques used vary and are closely guarded secrets but speculation runs from a combination of holotech and ECM, to special fields (like the Deflectors/Shields above) that bend sensor signals and even light around the object.
- A Stellvia trademark.
- Explaining why so many Fen have a single 'look'.
- Or the paranoid.
- Or Pleather as some insist on calling it.
- Powered Armour to you and me.
- Or weapons.
- And it has to, given most Fen vehicles are 'waved cars dashing about the Solar System at a tenth the speed of light.
- 'Waved Mentos and diet soda will work, disturbingly.
- So don't go peeking.