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A particle bomb is an explosive device which generates its destructive power from reactions between nuclei and nucleons. The three modes of nuclear reactions are fission, fusion and annihilation. The amount of energy released in any given nuclear explosion varies but particle bombs are pound-for-pound the most powerful and destructive weapons created by man.
Humanity is lucky that such devices have only existed a short while. The first was tested on March 21, 1931 in the Mojave Desert after almost a year of research from the international Ahau Project. The basic principles of particle physics behind the bomb were well-known but no one knew about the material properties of so-called lethal (radioactive) metals.
Nuclear technology rapidly advanced until the first two-stage fusion bomb was tested in 1939 and single-stage pure fusion bombs were deployed in 1942. By 1967, six countries possessed nuclear weapons and five had intercontinental mechanisms of delivery. Three rival nuclear factions are left. The threat of nuclear war is one of the greatest fears of governments in the civilized world.
There are four basic types of particle bombs: those which derive all energy from nuclear fission, those which begin secondary fusion reactions with nuclear fission initiation, those which derive their energy from nuclear fusion alone and those which derive all their energy from matter-antimatter annihilation.
Single-stage and dual-stage fission explosives were the earliest nuclear weapons. The former may be gun-type assembly; reaching supercritical mass by forceful collision of fissile material; or implosion-type assembly; reaching supercritical mass by compression of fissile material with explosives. The material, be it uranium-235 or plutonium-239, must be in the bomb at subcritical mass. The challenge for fission bombs is to ensure as much of the nuclear fuel participates in the chain reaction as possible, increasing weapon yield.
A dual-stage bomb requires a primary detonation of a fission bomb to fuse nuclei in a secondary supply of hydrogen or helium. Most of its explosive energy comes from fission reactions but the fusion is still a nice touch. Together, single and dual stage assemblies are the primitive particle weapons, More advanced assemblies can only be designed with a high level of understanding of quantum mechanics.
Nuclear fission requires expensive fuel that is hard to synthesize and bathes a target area in lasting radioactive by-products. Rome and the Conglomerate, always wishing to wage a more efficient war without wasting land they might want to conquer, sought to sidestep this problem with a pure-fusion bomb.
Maya scientists invented a technique called a pinch - a laser trigger for thermonuclear fusion - that came to be used in early fusion reactors. Laser induced nuclear fusion is not an achievement in itself for an advanced society but the design for the fuel container's inner layer was. Lasers for the pinch are refracted through the fuel shell, vaporizing the entire outer layer of fuel. Remaining fuel is vaporized in a chain reaction that eventually consumes most of the supply. Pound-for-pound pure-fusion bombs exceed their fissile brethren.
No weapon, however, compares with an antimatter bomb. A container with 1 kg of antimatter can yield a 43 megaton explosion. Positronic explosives release all this energy as gamma radiation while antiprotonic bombs lose half their yield as neutrino radiation, passing harmlessly through the planet.
Like conventional explosives, atomic bombs can be deployed on the battlefield by several means. Virtually every possible method of deployment has been conceived in the last 80 years, all the effective ones going into full military use. Nevertheless, the most popular and one of the more reliable means remains the Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Not every nation has the capability to field ICBMs and so bomber delivery is also considered an effective method, albeit one with simple countermeasures.
- ICBM - The Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, first created in 1931 for use in the Second World War, is a rocket with a range over 6,000 km. Modern versions can exceed 30,000 km. One of the most advanced example of this kind is the A-7 Azrael. All 365 are stored underneath a small island in the Caribbean. These hypersonic missiles can reach anywhere on the planet in minutes and remain no more detectable than a light aircraft. The pinnacle of ICBMs is the A-8 Metatron (Voice of God). With a range of 34,000 km and speed of 7600 m/s, the missile body is slightly above average for a hypersonic missile. It stands out for its destructive potential. When in range of the target the Metatron released 48 miniature explosives each with a 200 kTon pure-fusion warhead. Everything closer than 100 km from the epicenter would be destroyed with extreme prejudice. All ten Metatron ICBMs are stored in a high-security military base in Northern Italy - the Castrum Italia - waiting for direct activation by the emperor.
- Bomber - The Mongols and formerly Zulus deployed their nuclear bombs from the bay of heavy bombers - the so-called nuclear bombers. Three bombs have detonated by this method, the most of any means in war besides nuclear artillery. The death toll from the April 1954 bombings was in excess of one million soldiers. April 20th is remembered as the bloodiest day in human history. The atrocity has done very little to curb the production of particle bombs by the Mongols and it is now estimated that the Mongols have stockpiled more than 10,000 atomic bombs around their territory. Nevertheless, their combined total yield doesn't even approach those of the Mayans, Romans or Japanese, and so many analysts often regard it as negligible. The Subutai-Class bomber is the only operational nuclear bomber in the world. One aircraft can carry up to 10 nuclear bombs and deliver them at supersonic speeds to their target. Though nowhere near as effective as an ICBM, their high altitude of attack and the small profile of the bombs makes them harder to stop once an attack has begun.
- Supermassive Artillery - Of all mechanisms supermassive artillery stations have the most potential for successful delivery of a nuclear warhead. Sadly, two installations have been built for this purpose. The first is the Mjöllnir electromagnetic artillery piece in Greenland, now heavily damaged and under Alliance control. The second is also Alliance controlled. It is the Magnum Ballistarium Aetherium orbiting the Earth 370 km up. The former could target anywhere from Northeast Columbia to Moscow while the latter has global range and by far the best accuracy. The faster of the two, the space gun, can consecutively launch one of its 500 warheads every 7.2 seconds or so, essentially allowing it to destroy a single state in less than an hour. 18 shots were fired by Mjollnir, none of them reaching their target - Rome - as Roman space defenses easily shot them out of the atmosphere.
- Artillery - A logical step from a super artillery piece, nuclear artillery was a field exclusively pioneered by the Confederacy. Though not wholly practical as a delivery mechanism, it is entirely awe inspiring. Not only that, but the fact that any artillery piece the confederacy fielded was potentially a nuclear artillery piece, the technology's mere existence discouraged direct assaults on Confederate bases, greatly limiting the Alliance's ability to wage war. However, the Danes had only developed fission-type warheads and the guns' barrel width limited the size of shells so each shot was a low-yield 5-10 Ktons. Their strategic use in war has allowed nuclear artillery to go down in history as an effective weapon.
- Firearm - In response to Danish nuclear artillery, the Roman Empire developed one of the most uniquely conceived firearms in history - a handheld nuclear launcher. The Jason electromagnetically launches a head-sized fusion device up to 4 km. The 7 kTon warhead can be set to detonate either on impact or after a set period of time. As this weapon allows one man to level a city, it is extremely dangerous; only certified individuals in the Legion are permitted to wield it.
- Mines - The 1960's were a period of strenuous international relations. Japan found itself surrounded, figuratively speaking, by its enemies. The government felt isolated and unable to rely on its allies in all cases of an attack on their soil. One solution, devised by Japanese engineers, was to defend the Northwest and Southern coast of the Isles with nuclear naval mines that could function as depth charges. A network of over 460 naval mines was built on the seafloor at both locations that would release these mines when the Isles were threatened by an invasion. The charges are designed to rise until about 100 m from the surface and are programmed to dive or rise depending on the position of an approaching threat. The mines have yet to be deployed. They have been sealed under the sea since 1972.
- Portable - So-called pocket nukes were tested for a 1 Kton yield by the Maya in 1957. Their purpose is to be carried into the target area in a bag or a car for detonation from a safe distance - like planting a charge. The few high-yield portable bombs that have been built by the Maya and Romans are heavily guarded due to their potential as terrorist weapons. One man can level part of a city with the device and enough resolve to sacrifice himself. Nonetheless, the dangers did not prevent the Legion from building particle bombs the size of grenades. Activation mechanisms have been advanced so far that a nuclear grenade was tested in 1994 with a mere 40 ton yield, able to be safely used by Legionaries in combat.