A Matter of Gravity
KOINON-NET ARCHIVE: [REDACTED]
SPACE-TIME COORDINATES: [REDACTED]
COLLOQUIAL DESIGNATION: Needle of Night
[Operative Crabbe]: So, as you can see, The Scourge are using this natural wormhole to transfer fleet assets from the Grey bases in universe [REDACTED] to their offensive in the [REDACTED] Spiral Arm of Galaxy [REDACTED] in Universe [REDACTED].
Currently, the opposition consists of a coalition of 34 major species and their minor allies. Over the past month, The Scourge have focused their offensive toward system [REDACTED].
That is a sound choice on their part, since the system is heavily industrialized, with a total sophont population, including megastructures and space-based habitats, approaching 29 trillion.
[REDACTED] alone produces 10% of the Coalition’s war materiel, and takes a leadership role in Coalition strategic planning.
Although the system has been building up its defenses, the 15000 heavies currently en route via the wormhole will probably be enough to overrun it.
[Captain Trajan: Note: Originator of Record]: Magos, what’s this?
[Magos Blue]: Elven elderberry brandy. Have some if you like.
[Operative Crabbe]: So, anyway, that’s the situation.
[Quasar]: Jenn, Cryo, and I have a possible remedy. Can we zoom to the system of the wormhole? Yes, there.
System [REDACTED] is trinary, with the wormhole in a distant orbit around two stars, an orange giant and a white dwarf, which orbit each other close enough to represent a contact binary.
As often happens in such cases, the contact binary is also a cataclysmic variable. In other words, matter from the orange giant accumulates on the surface of the white dwarf until it triggers a brief episode of greatly enhanced fusion commonly known as a nova.
The white dwarf is almost due for a nova, but The Scourge are willing to risk one last convoy through the wormhole. That’s where we come in.
[Blake Sigurdsson]: I always wanted to goose a star.
[Quasar]: It’s not as easy as you might think. Antimatter warheads lack sufficient energy density, so Cryo and I came up with a different approach.
Perhaps you’ve heard of magnetic monopoles? They’re tricky to contain, and harder to manipulate, but boy do they ever make for fantastic fusion catalysts!
Jenn ran a few numbers for me…
[Jenn Jones]: I borrowed most of the surplus computing capacity of 23,000 industrialized systems, and four major superintelligent processing nodes, for the past week.
[Magos Blue]: How did we pay for all that? Please tell me we didn’t just proliferate the knowledge for a new arms race through the multiverse.
[Jenn Jones]: Ha! The four superintelligences already knew all about conversion weapons, and helped out as part of the war effort; but I configured the mass-distribution software package as a game. Hit the top-played lists on over half the systems, too.
[Magos Blue]: Can we trust these silicon gods with such a crucial calculation?
[Jenn Jones]: Can we trust ANY gods? The ones I approached all had good reasons to be annoyed with Grey Infinity.
[Quasar]: Anyway, it turns out that Gaugamela can pack enough monopole-loaded missiles to cook off the white dwarf in its entirety. With correct targeting, the explosion will proceed as a chain reaction, producing a focused relativistic jet, like a shaped charge, in an arc of 30 degrees or so.
Although the natural wormhole has survived multiple novas from the white dwarf, the focused supernova should be too much for it. Several failure modes are possible, but all cases should be… spectacular. Gravitic waves from the collapse will prevent access to hyperspace or temporary wormholes.
[Operative Crabbe]: That’s quite a blast. But what about the portion of the explosion outside the main arc?
[Quasar]: Well, Gaugamela could be in for a bit of a rough ride. Assuming that we depart at maximum thrust as soon as the missiles are away, our calculations show that she should reach a safe distance before shields fail.
[Operative Crabbe]: How do we get close enough? The Scourge will post scouts throughout the system. Given the strength of the main force, I’d expect 50 to 100 heavies on the far side of the binary.
Gaugamela can’t last long outnumbered 80 to one.
[Captain Trajan]: The Koinon will never agree to send Gaugamela on a suicide mission!
[Quasar]: Well, if Blue can make her invisible for four hours or so?
[Magos Blue]: Cloak a fifty-kilometer dreadnought once, and people will expect you to do it again. Yes, with preparation, and help from Red and Green, I should be able to.
Just understand that if The Scourge have wage mages nearby, they certainly will detect a spell of such magnitude.
[Blake Sigurdsson]: After the pasting we gave them at [REDACTED], The Scourge are finding archmages a bit pricey to hire.
[Magos Blue]: It only takes one, Red.
What does R.E.G.G.I.E. say about the chance of that happening?
[Jenn Jones]: Twenty-seven percent.
[Magos Blue]: And P.Y.T.H.I.A.?
[Jenn Jones]: Still analyzing replies. “No” is leading at 35%.
[Magos Blue]: So, we can destroy a star system on purpose this time, and with it a permanent feature of two universes. I miss the days when “a new secret weapon” meant an extra bank of oars on a galley.
[Cryonic]: And save 29 trillion lives. That’s what we do.
[Magos Blue]: All right, everyone pick your marble for the vote.
Crabbe, please brief Wepwawet and Alecto; we’ll need them to vote on a gamble of this magnitude too, even if they don’t like to deal with questions of science.
Captain, I trust you will return with the Koinon’s reply once you’re done with that brandy?
Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.