THE RIGHT WAY: ATTACK AT A DISTANCE
I love beam cutters. I love blasters and plasma bursters. I love seeing mechs, fighter craft, hover tanks, and power armor get sliced, melted, or blown to pieces.
But we’re not here to talk about my predilections. We’re talking invasion. As incredible as directed energy weapons are, they have a distinct disadvantage when fighting planetside. See, they travel in straight lines, and the surface of the Earth – as it is with most planets – is curved. A powerful beam weapon can destroy anything within your line of sight, but on a curved surface your line of sight only goes only so far. Chances are, most of your enemies will be beyond that point.
We’ve come to rely on beam weapons so much because a lot of combat takes place in space. There, the distances are extreme. Even super-fast projectile weapons like missiles and probes can take a while to reach their targets. Beam weapons travel at or near the speed of light, so they almost instantaneously arrive at their targets.
We’re talking about fighting planetside. When fighting on a planet, the curved surface means your beam weapon is only effective to a certain range. So you need a weapon that can strike over the horizon. It’s here that you need projectile weapons.
Bring a wide variety of missiles as well. Bring big strategic ones for mass devastation and intimidation. Bring tactical missiles for individual battles. Bring ones that will saturate the ground with explosives. Bring smart bombs that can pick a target out of a crowd, fly right next to him and blow him to pieces. Even individual troops need some kind of projectile weapon for a variety of reasons.
Sometimes you need a projectile or something that arcs because the enemy is behind a very thick barrier. Unless you want to waste time using a beam cannon to burrow a hole through the obstacle. But that’s just asking for a nasty surprise.
Even if a target can be hit by your beam weapons, you may need to use a missile or probe. The target in question may be resistant to that specific type of energy attack. Hell, all you need to deflect some lasers is a shiny surface. Plasma does most of its damage through heat. Something as simple as water or ice packs can lessen the blow. It’s called thermal transfer. Electrically charged particles can be deflected, or even redirected, via a strong magnetic or electrical field. That’s the big problem – the very fact that these energies can be directed means it’s possible to redirect or deflect them.
When it comes to Earth, the inhabitants have already made some big strides. They knew about lasers before the last several invasions. They had worked with plasma. They’ve figured out a few tricks of their own.
It’s a lot harder to protect against kinetic force, whether that’s a shock wave or projectiles. During Dronn’s invasion, the Earthlings didn’t have inertial control technology; that is, the stuff we use so we don’t get pulverized when we accelerate our space ships. The same tech is used in defense shields.
Ironically, the weapons that would have given the Earthlings the most problems were the ones they were most familiar with, missiles and kinetic explosives. Their only defenses at that time were huge slabs of hardened concrete, or the old stand-by, Don’t Get Hit.
But that was then. Since that time, the Earthlings have had plenty of time to sift through the debris of wrecked ships. They have come up with several experimental defense shields that can be deployed over major areas.