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THE WEAPONS that were used in the Jupiter War were generally refinements of those that had been in use for almost a hundred years. The lack of any effective source of massive power prevented any beam weapons from being of more than marginal value. The scarcity of Transuranics also limited the number of atomic weapons drastically. In spite of these limitations, man’s ingenuity at devising ways to kill and maim provided a wide range of weaponry. Primary among the ship-to-ship weapons were missiles. Most contained not explosive, but shrapnel. Since the speed of most ships made an actual hit in the traditional sense a rarity, proximity fuses that strewed a ship’s projected path with steel balls traveling at several thousand relative miles per hour had been established as the most effective weapon.

Shrapnel missiles more often disabled rather than destroyed an opponent, and were inversely effective to the distance they were fired at. This meant that most serious confrontations consisted of ships literally diving at each other, firing from the first moment possible in hopes of destroying the other first. Once the range had closed, explosive shells had more chance to hit and were exponentially more destructive.

The combat effectiveness of a ship was directly proportional to the amount of ordnance it could carry and the speed with which it could spew the missiles out. The vulnerability of a ship was also similarly related to its speed and cross section combined with its ECM. Since the distances involved within the Jovian system are comparatively small, small ships could contain a high proportion of weapons to drive and life-support systems to fuel and drive. Unfortunately such ships were of only limited value in protecting the long routes from each side’s asteroid bases. In order to use these fighter-style combat ships over greater distances carriers were employed. Since a ship on a planet was incredibly vulnerable, and begged for an attack that was likely to destroy the base as well, these carriers later became even larger to enable them to serve as mobile combat bases for several months at a time.

Propulsion at the beginning of the Jupiter War was supplied by a highly efficient form of reaction drive, for fuel methane was refined-though ironically, it was never possible to employ the methane atmosphere around Jupiter as a source of fuel. Larger ships, carriers, and freighters, were capable of housing a fusion reactor. This provided power for both the early forms of beam weapons and to refine fuel for the smaller ships. New forms of propulsion were continually experimented with, but until very late in the conflict none proved reliable.

As the fusion technology improved under the stimulus of war, a new class of ship evolved. This was the cruiser. The cruiser was the smallest ship capable of carrying and employing a fusion generator. Approximately ten times the size of the largest fighter, the - cruiser had to make up with ECM and offensive power what it sacrificed in agility and cross section.

On a personal level, propelling a piece of solid matter into your enemy’s body was still the most effective way to kill one another. If anything, the vulnerability of space suits made slug-throwing weapons even more appealing. Innovations were needed to enable such weapons to fire in an airless environment, but most of these had been achieved during the skirmishes on Earth’s Moon during the 2020s.

Computers, while immense aides to navigation, proved ineffective in combat. They could supplement, but never succeeded in replacing, a human gunner for making decisions in combat. The trend of developing computers to simplify and augment, rather than replace, human operators that dominated the twenty-first century meant that war still was a matter of men facing men over the barrel of a gun, or missile tube

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