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Rayy guns were first invented by an American scientist Professor Benjamin Rayy in 2159, though most historians agree that it almost certainly came from the derelict and Rayy is merely a cover story. Never the less, the weapons are licensed to only a few American weapons manufacturers and are the weapon of choice for the American armada. They work by focusing a high power beam of neutrons, travelling at near the speed of light, onto the targets hull with a focus of about half a millimetre per kilometre[1].

Practically, this creates a highly coherent beam[2] that dumps a large amount of heat into a very small area of the target. This gives high damage and near perfect accuracy, but the effectiveness decreases at longer ranges, partly due to attenuation of the beam but also at it becomes harder to keep the beam steady on the target, and any wobble means you essentially have to start heating the area all over again and ships dissipate heat rather fast due to the number of systems dedicated to such tasks.

The actual time it takes to do anything more than superficial damage is largely dependent on the armour you are firing at. Commercial hulls will last only a second or so before vaporising, standard battle armour will last about three, re-entry class plating will give you up to five seconds, and a polymer designed specifically to counter rayy guns could give you ten seconds or so, though if you sit still in space combat for ten seconds you’re a dead man anyway.

Rayy guns in 2100 are still in their infancy, though that doesn’t stop them shredding unsuspecting ships and easily outclassing any other guns with only the plasma cannons coming close. By 2200 improved target pathing abilities more than make up for the lead time, and necessitate ablative shielding to protect against them, that or crazy good piloting. In The End Time Wars, rayy guns are used as a planetary bombardment weapons[3] pumping terawatts of power into an area no larger than a football pitch and sustaining this until the surrounding area boils. These probably should be banned by international treaty. But would you argue with someone who’s capable of vaporising a small country?

Rayy guns have no appreciable ammunition expenditure, consuming heavy element dust such as lead or uranium due to the abundance of neutrons. A single canister of such dust sometime lasts an entire war before needing to be recharged, as the ratio of energy to neutron is so high. Most of the destructive power comes from the energy output of the reactor, and this, not to mention having to cool the barrels, is one of the major limitations to the rate and sustainability of fire.

Random Fact: No one’s yet figured out how the rayy guns accelerate neutrons, as by most laws of physics, they should be pretty much inert. Most would just shrug and call it derelict technology.

Bonus Fact: Rayy guns are used as the primary accelerator on the 2289 high energy space-borne platform (HESP)[4].

Authors Note: And still more technologies creep in from the game setting. It was originally the intention to have each faction (see, this is why I even have factions) having their own specialist weapons. This fell by the way side at some point as I chopped and changed the setting, but still there are a couple of weapon groups, of which rayy guns make up their own unique section. The less technologically superior factions tend to used mass drivers, such as chemically propelled bullets or rail/coil guns.

[1]The accuracy and power is simply impossible using terrestrial technologies of the age, so it is generally assumed to be derelict technology

[2] This beam is all but invisible, except for a static scream on the radar as it ionises the gaseous molecules in space, but you’d need to be wired into the radar array to notice that.

[3] Something that couldn’t be used before as the atmosphere caused too much dissipation of the beam for it to be effective. Actually, pretty much any atmosphere makes rayy guns useless for long range combat, and so rail guns and nuclear missiles are used for planetary bombardment.

[4] This station was rather like CERN in its function, but instead of a circular ring, it used a single track, forty kilometres long to accelerate particles to energies infinitesimally close to the beginning of the universe. The heat sinks and radiators the thing had at the collision site were actually more massive than the whole colliding array.


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