Void-Shields are the darkest and most sophisticated of all Cult’s machinations of defence. These wards combine several arts into a gestalt shield technology that is all but impregnable to mundane weaponry and grants the Imperium the blessing of the machine god, a huge advantage in combat. All superstructures are usually clothed in void-shields, this includes the massive 10+ km Battle Ships of the Imperial Navy right down to the Avatars of Ghod (Titans) that stride into battle.
Void-Shields (Composite (layer) Fields)
These are a class of composite defensive fields which combine Power-Field, conversion-field and warp-drop (gate) field into a complete defensive void-shield system. There are a huge number of variants, and no two voids shields are configured in the same way. Each void-shield is custom made, and any large structure may have several configurations of void-shield in different areas. About the only thing standard about the Void-Shield is their basic concept and the fact that they are incredibly robust. These go far beyond ‘force-fields’.
Defence Grid weapons
Although not directly part of the Void-Shield it plays an important part is nullifying certain attacks. The defence grid is made up of linked batteries of laz-cannon that shoot down slow moving inbound missiles and ships. Its primary objective is to shot down torpedoes with nuke warheads or more powerful ordnance.
Power-Field Layer (Forescreen)
Any inbound missile that makes it past the active defence grid slams into the outer Power-Field layer. This field disrupts material bonds between atoms, making an object malleable within its influence. The effect on the missile is devastating, instantly destabilised, the missile’s components are jumbled causing it to cease functioning. This effect is enough to render most nukes void. Larger objects like assault pods suffer massive damage as the field rips away the outer layers, often breaching the pod’s hull.
This outer screen will fail (trip) if overloaded but only by objects larger than assault pods, such as fighter spaceships or larger, can do this. Fortunately, the defence grid can easily target these larger vehicles.
Tripping the outer screen means it shuts down, only for a second or two, and while down an object to pass through. A tripped force screen only affects a small area: usually, no more than a 50m in radius. Though some designs this area can be much smaller, sometimes as small as a 5m in radius. The screens can be overlapped, arranged like (invisible) dragon scales, for redundancy.
Here the Conversion-Field converts inbound energy into a type that can directly power the two shields which lay directly below it (and often reinitiate the forescreen above it). Both momentum and energy are converted.
Warp-Drop-Field (Gate Plane) Layer
The Warp-Drop-Field, also known as a Gate-Field (or ‘Gate Plane’ in classical writings), is a layer that consists of a ‘high potential warp zone’. This potential becomes realised if the output of the Conversion-Field layer goes beyond a threshold level, tripping the Warp-Drop-Field and creating a flash gate/ portal into the Warp. Any object or energy wave traversing the gate will be dropped into the warp (hence Warp-Drop-Field). A common name for the Warp is ‘the Void’, and this field is where the common name ‘Void-Shield’ comes from.
Strike> Conversion of Energy> Power to Trigger point threshold > Warp-Drop-Field activates> Threat dropped into the warp.
Any material or energy that is dropped into the Warp can no longer affect the materium in any way, shape, or form. The threat of the attack is considered to be ‘null and void’ in Naval terminology (as in the attack is nullified, and dropped into the void :P ). Once in the warp the laws of materium physics no longer apply, all matter and energy is torn apart, and swept away by the strong currents in the warp.
Power-Field Layer (Back screen)
If the object or energy wave striking the Conversion-Field is insufficient to trigger a warp drop, then;
- The object will become slowed as the Conversion-Field robs it of momentum energy.
- The energy wave will dissipate in all directions mostly radiating outwards. (though certain ‘tuned’ attacks of just below the threshold trigger power and above dissipation power may get through.)
In either case, there will be a lot of free energy from the Conversion-Field and both result in an intense photon flash. Although slowed a large object of sufficient mass can move through the Conversion-Field and strike the ship, this is where the backup Power-Field comes into play. The Power-Field soften objects and scrabbles their atomic structures, and any softened object tends to ‘splash’ when striking the hull, but massive objects can still cause impact damage. Some older Power-Field Layers also can resist physically, which uses massive amounts of power, to create and invisible wall. Having a multitude of Power-Field layers and effects (often referred to as an ‘exotic’ layer).
Defeating the Ultimate Shield
The harder you hit is the more it resists! Even nukes can not penetrate a ship with active Void-Shields: either the nuke vanishes into the warp just before impact, or the explosion is sucked into the warp. In both cases the ship is unscathed. Getting past a shield like this takes a lot of power or particularly low cunning, and surprisingly simple mundane technology.
Note: Shameless hand wave to make space ships act like ol’ fashioned sailing ships using broadsides, blasting pirates and man-o’-war alike with ‘cannons’. This matches the feel of the game ‘Battlefleet Gothic‘, and attempts to justify it to a modern scientific mindset.
Lances are fantastically powerful weapons that can carve up an unprotected ship in minutes. They will go through common Conversion-Fields with enough power (and in some cases the converted energy put out by the Conversion-Field is so great it can cause damage to the object/ person it is protecting. For example; a conversion of a plasma stream to pure light can render an attack impotent, but with enough power; light will burn). However, as mighty as the Lance is a weapon it is useless if used to attack a Void-Shield directly.
Uncertainty Event: The only way for a Lance to penetrate a Void-Shield is to fire at it continuously until the Warp-Drop-Field suffers an ‘uncertainty event’. These events occur when the warp becomes turbulent and are far more likely to occur near warp storms. During an uncertainty event, the warp wells up and tries to escape through the great barrier breach created by the Warp-Drop-Field (the warp pushes back!). When this happens, the Lance stream will pierce a Void-Shield for a moment and strike armour and cause damage. By firing continuously at a Void-Shield, vast amounts of energy and matter are dumped into the warp, churning up the warp, and making an ‘uncertainty event’ more likely. The only problem with this tactic is the amount of energy needed to pull it off; a ship could drain all its power and still not have an effect. On the other hand; if in an area of space where the co-existing warp space is in a highly volatile storm state, continuous fire may invoke an event before the ship runs dry.
In the Imperium, a new tactic was developed to take on rebels with advanced Void-Shield tech: Round Shot.
Round Shot (Threading the Needle)
At a simple level, these are massive solid iron ‘cannon’ balls accelerated via magnets (more here). The tactic is to launch the Round Shot, and then target the actual Round Shot with Lances as it as it traverses the Void-Shield.
This tactic exploits a weakness in Void-Shield design, namely the threshold level needed to trigger the Warp-Drop-Field. A large and massive object can slide through the Conversion-Field losing much kinetic energy to the Conversion-Field, but not enough to activate the Warp-Drop-Field. The Round Shot then strikes the Power-Field layer where is becomes softened, it’s core molecular matter disrupted, but due to the slow speed and large mass, it does not disintegrate. The Round Shot will slide through the Power-Field in the softened state, and impact the ship’s hull causing virtually no damage and is considered relatively harmless.
Notes: Why not use a nuke? If a nuke could slide into the field and detonate inside, it would be a powerful attack. Nukes can not be used due to the softening effect, as the uranium of fissile materials become destabilised. This may mean that the Power-Field has to go on the outside, to mess with the incoming shot, and deal with a low-level attack?
Grid defences can shoot a nuke to prices, and it will not function, but a massive iron ball with loads of holes in it is still a massive iron ball! Also, the iron is pretty good at absorbing heat, and the outer layers turn to plasma when struck which in turn defuses the incoming sustained beams. Iron is cheap, and easy to store (phase tech can decrease weight).
This is where the Lances come into the equation. As the Round Shot traverses the layers of the Void-Shield, it is in effect creating a window through the Shield, a window of iron. A Lance beam striking the Round Shot only strikes iron, and a Lance is more than capable of slicing through that with ease. The Lance burns a hole straight through the Round Shot and continues on to strike the hull at full power (unlike uncertainty events) and inflicts massive damage and may strike the Shield generators. The window will not remain open for long, as once struck by the Lance the expanding plasma ball will initiate the warp drop field (as the Conversion-Field is flooded with power).
The tactic requires highly accurate shooting from the Lancers, and only enhanced servitors gunners are up to the task.
Tech Note: Fields are one way. You can put your hand outside a personal Power-Field effect area, and nothing bad happens when you pull your arm back in, and you can shoot out of the field. However, a solid lump of matter that has breached the field is now technically inside the field, and the rest of the object outside the field follows the same rules as any other object travelling in the outward direction. Even if the field shuts down (tripped), when it comes back up it will mould around the object as if the object was to be protected.
This is why cylinders are not used to create the ‘windows’ because the shield would fill the hole running through the cylinder, and the Lance would be striking the Shield full on (very low chance of penetration, even lower with this limited window of opportunity). To make it work, the Lancer would have to hit the edge of the cylinder! The Round Shot, once it has breached all the Shield layers, effective blocks the formation of the Shields layers – that is why it makes an effective ‘window maker’.