Boy are you in trouble.
Mass-Reactive Weaponry, often abbreviated to “MMR”, is employed as an anti-hard target system by the Photos for a wide variety of mountings. While still in the Plasma family of weapons, Mass-Reactive weaponry is differentiated by a different, and important, function. Mass-Reactive weapons fire a bolt of hyper-energized plasma that, on impact with solid -or sufficiently dense liquid- matter, causes the fission of a few molecules of the impact area - in layman’s terms, it causes a micro-scale nuclear detonation. The downside, however, is range; the plasma bolt will loose the energy to cause this fission after a relatively short distance, about 200 feet/60 metres for the rifle. This forces operators to get dangerously close to the target, be it a bunker or a tank. In addition, the weapons have to be kept clean less they misfire and blow up in the operator’s hands - the odds of surviving a nuke going off in your face are not good, even with some of the best military powered armor in production.
There are three weapons in the Mass-Reactive family, the first being the Mass-Reactive Pistol. Just recently cleared for service, the Mass-Reactive Pistol was plagued with numerous developmental troubles, the most notable being how to make the energy bolt have enough energy to cause fission at anything past point-blank range, never to state a practical or even safe distance. Eventually, they settled upon something a bit strange for a pistol; the pistol’s entire magazine is fired in a single shot. Unlike most conventional sidearms, this is intended to be a one-shot weapon for popping open hard targets, just like it’s bigger siblings. Unfortunately, it suffers from a short range, even among Mass-Reactive weaponry.
The Mass-Reactive Rifle is arguably the most common of the three conventional variants of the weapon system. Easily man-portable and about the same size as a Plasma Rifle (though almost twice as heavy), the Mass-Reactive Rifle gives Photos infantry some much-needed anti-tank that doesn’t keep them bogged down. Traditionally, anti-tank was either handled with a four-tube missile rack or a shoulder-fired Light Plasma Lance. While both did their jobs well, they required the operator to remain stationary and thus drastically hurt the squad’s mobility, to say nothing of short range/CQB situations like urban combat. The introduction of the Mass-Reactive Rifle made the countering of heavy armor or fortified positions considerably easier.
The Mass-Reactive Cannon is the largest of the conventional Mass-Reactive weapons. Effectively a scaled-up Mass-Reactive Rifle, it is commonly mounted on Assault Armor or as a co-axial gun on tanks. Mass-Reactive Cannons can do a large deal of damage in short order, but are offset by a relative rareness, thanks again to a steep price tag.
In addition to the three conventional weapons, there are variants of much increased size and power for mounting on star-ships, normally used either against capital ships or for planetary bombardment, as against other targets it’s pretty much overkill. In the vacuum of space, there are few things to diffuse the plasma bolt, meaning that instead of a few atoms, it’s usually the whole impact area - energy nukes anyone?
The Liberator is a fairly new Photos heavy fighter design that has seen a lot of action in recent engagements. One of the most unique things about the liberator is that it’s four main plasma cannons can have guided fire- it can sacrifice range and some power to extend an electromagnetic field a short distance from the barrel and actually “guide” the plasma bolts to their target - this means trying to out turn the Liberator is a fatal waste of time.
Also strange is that for a heavy fighter, the Liberator is incredibly fast, able to keep pace with most interceptors. This is attributed that it has five sets of engines- one built into the fuselage and four engine pods that have the wings and guns mounted on them. While this does mean that it’s wings and weapons are in a somewhat compromised position, the Liberator’s speed and heavy armament makes it a hard task to land enough shots to cause real damage to such a relatively small target.
An even newer upgrade, the Liberator 2, increased the engine output a small amount, increased armor plating, and upgraded the reactor enough to add a pair of Heavy Plasma Cannons- these can’t be guided but pack one hell of a punch. It also redesigned the main fuselage and nose a bit, to mount an anti-ship rocket pod. This gives the Liberator 2 the ability to act as an impromptu bomber if need be, making strategic strikes on ships with it’s rockets and heavy cannons.
The Plasma Pulser was a Photos burst-fire plasma weapon developed around the time of the Great War. The burst fire was added as a redundancy measure; many Zeront creatures were very difficult to kill in a single shot, and came in droves. The whole idea was for a few squads of Troopers to be able to accurately fire on an advancing swarm of Zeront and thin their numbers off enough to force a retreat by the time they got within their comfortable combat range. In most cases this worked well, with the lesser strains dropped with a single burst and the raw volume of fire put out by merely three squads, fifteen Troopers, armed with these. Against hardier foes, however, flaws became frighteningly apparent. The ability to fire a three shot burst came at the cost of individual shot strength and against tougher foes it became nigh impossible to do any notable damage with Pulsers.
In spite of these flaws, the Pulser saw the Photos faithfully through the war and for a short time after, before the introduction of the modern Plasma Rifle as the standard weapon. While it was retired for a long time, it was reintroduced in the third generation of infantry weapon development, with a much modernized upgrade. While the normal infantry were well established with their rifles and carbines, the lightweight and accurate Pulser was excellent for scouts, allowing them to function without being encumbered by a heavier weapon.
Old, original “0 Generation” Pulsers are still around, most being display pieces in a museum or the home of a veteran.
The weapon’s history owes to the original Photos infantry battle rifle, the Plasma Pulser. This carbine fired in three round bursts; it held a high accuracy but the way the burst function was implemented required .75 second before it could fire again, inhibiting it’s ability to rapidly fire. The Carbine was originally developed from field modded Pulsers before R&D took notice and developed the Carbine as a dedicated weapon.
Up to it’s third generation, the Carbine was not capable of being equipped with a stock, further lending to it’s spray and pray reputation. However, the 3rd Generation rifle and carbine had both their attachment systems and stocks fully renovated. Grenade Launchers and other attachments became removable and replaceable, and the Carbine became capable of taking the same telescopic stock as the Rifle. This worked well, allowing the weapon to be shouldered and become much more accurate.
Other than the modified barrel, the internal workings of the carbine are the same as the rifle, save the cyclic rate being doubled.
The standard issue weapon for Photos infantrymen, the Plasma Rifle is am efficient, reliable, and powerful weapon. With an effective range of 850 feet (259.08 metres), and dealing both kinetic and thermal damage, the Plasma Rifle is a weapon to be feared.
The weapon possesses a fairly interesting firing mechanism. Rather than use a container of easily-ionized gas as ammunition, the rifle instead uses average atmospheric gasses as it’s munitions. While these can normally prove to be difficult to ionize in a rifle scale, the Photos get around this by using a block of soft, conductive metal; usually aluminum. The firing mechanism will shave a minute amount of this off and shatter it into tiny fragments, usually only a fraction of a milimetre in size. These are then launched into the firing chamber, while a pair of oppositely-charged magnets spin around the ionization chamber. The rampantly alternating magnetic field tends to cause the fragments of conductive metal to superheat and give off a huge amount of energy, ionizing the gas contained in the chamber. The plasma bolt is then launched down the barrel by electromagnets much like a coilgun, to be expelled out the barrel and downrange. The block of metal used to ionize the gasses is good for around 1,000 shots in Oxygen-based atmospheres- others may need more or less conductive filaments to ionize properly.
While against unarmored or lightly armored targets a single shot can be fatal, the weapon can have a hard time piercing heavy armor, as armor can be designed to cope with the heat from the plasma impacts, and while the weapon does deliver notable kinetic impact, it is seldom more than an average modern bullet.
Like most Photos weapons, there is a targeting node in the weapon’s barrel that will sync with the HUD of Powered Armor and link to a dynamic crosshair, indicating just where the user’s shot will land and what discrepancy the projectile itself may be expected to have due to factors like wind and such.