Li’l Lightning

Whoever can observe, orient, decide, and act fastest in response to stimuli on the battlefield will always win.

Should it have surprised anyone that machines capable of millions of decisions a second would rule the battlefield?

While it was possible for a machine to observe the minutia of a battlefield and decide the best course of action, there remained the problem of acting.

Physics still had to be respected. Mass still had to be set into motion, and stopped from its motion, before the action could take place. Not even considering the flight time of a bullet.

A machine could decide 10 places to shoot in 1/10th of a second, but it took more than that time to point a barrel, fire a projectile, wait for that projectile to leave the barrel, and wait for the action of the firearm to cycle the next round into the chamber.

It wasn’t until the invention of the gyro-turret that the physics problem was solved. The axial-offset rotation and mass balance drew the barrel across 360 horizontal degrees and 20 total degrees of vertical inclination and declination 32 times per second.

The bearings had to be extremely well machined (and replaced often), and the optical RPM sensor had to be almost vacuum sealed to prevent any dust from interfering with the reading, but at peak performance, it could shoot bullets out of the air and then shoot the sender of those bullets in the head 5 times.

It was nicknamed the Deathpop, because it resembled a lollipop, as the spherical mass rotated at 10,000 RPM and fed ammunition up from its magazine tube beneath it.

The sensors above the sphere blasted a form of radar in all directions to track projectiles, and any movements. Any incoming projectiles were considered targets immediately, assuming the trajectory for intercept was clear, and the estimated deflection path was also clear. If not, the system would calculate flight path, and determine the next opportunity for a clear shot, then wait patiently for a few hundred nanoseconds until the intercepting shot could be made. If there was enough time, the system would frequently fire a shot at the projectile’s point of origin. Sometimes, it even killed the shooter before the bullet even reached its target. Well, WOULD have reached its target.

In the case of movement, optical sensors captured the movement graphically, and the patterns of movement were laboriously analyzed for thousands of picoseconds to determine whether or not the moving object should be forcibly stopped from moving.

Controlling the system was far beyond human capacity. It simply had to be pre-programmed and activated for a few dozen seconds, and then deactivated. Many fighting units used it in its most decidedly UNrecommended setting, Motion Area Denial, or MAD mode. In this mode, the Deathpop shot at everything that moved. The more clever squads would drive the device into the killzone, put cover between them and the device, and activate it.

“We called it Li’l Lightning, because when we turned it on it sounded like a long crack of lightning. Almost like static. Well, I say ‘long’ but it really only needed a second or so. I guess that’s long for lightning. We’d get the call ‘lightning lightning lightning’, get behind something and hold our breath, Sarge’d turn it on, and in a second: off, and there’d be 40 canoed Oscars. It was hell to clean up after, but it beat getting shot.”

It was well known for being a finicky weapon system that simply failed to work in some climates, and needed frequent maintenance and part replacement. “It wasn’t my job, but I still knew it was a huge pain in the rear to maintain. Worth it though. That thing’s the hand of god, and it’s worth every million dollar nut and bolt.”

Li’l Lightning

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