Active Polymorphic Defence
Polymorphic defences
Image from Steve Bowers
Combat Modubot swarm, using 'Holing' to reduce laser damage
Many forms of combat technology are capable of rapid movement and reconfiguration, both in attack modes and in defence modes. Systems using amorphous systems such as utility fog, bushbots, swarm or conglomerate technology or fuzzy shielding can use a variety of defence measures to minimise damage. Non- or partially-amorphous combat units can also use a number of these measures.

Active Polymorphic Defences (APDs)are measures used in combat that utilize the motion potential of the defender to increase survivability. The ancient example of this form of defence is the pre-historical pistol-duelling baseline turning their body from square-on to their attacker to shoulder-on, thereby reducing the attack area available to said attacker.

APDs include such things as holing, pointing, and dodgers, as well as countermeasures such as twitch capabilities. These also have subset capabilities such as spoofing, and related terminology such as "cheesers" or "paint into a corner".


Holing - A defensive measure (and, typically, the control code/systems/auxilliary capabilities) primarily designed to be utilized by amorphous constructs when threatened by high energy linear projections such as shaped charge launchers, short duration coherent energy projectors, kinetic energy penetrators or the like. These systems perceive such a threat and predicts probable strike vectors based on said threats' properties - barrel alignment, local gravity, optical characteristics, EM signature, etc.

When such threat projections are available, the construct simply creates a void within its structure aligned with the predicted strike vectors - that is, it makes a hole in itself for the damaging energy or mass to pass through.

Most amorphous constructs capable of holing generate voids large enough to reduce the risk of the strike 'twitching' to one side or the other during firing, which is one of the typical offensive countermeasures to holing.

Holing may, in certain circumstances, be used to generate some energy from incoming fire. This is typically accomplished via cilia or other motile portions lining the holes being moved by the passing effects of the incoming energy. Other forms include using electromagnetic effects (that is, various forms of inductance) for high-energy charged particle passage. There are a few modes of holing that set up small screens of mass through the hole generated intended to mechanically damp the incoming shot and generate various forms of power that way.

- - - -

Dodgers - An integrated suite of sensors, movement override systems and processing capabilities intended to improve the capabilities of non-amorphous systems to minimize or even avoid the detrimental effects of high energy linear projections such as shaped charge launchers, short duration coherent energy projectors, kinetic energy penetrators or the like. Based loosely on 'Holing', these systems are designed to either suggest movement patterns or to actually move one or more physical bodies to avoid the lines of fire of known/sensed/suspected threats that are capable of breaching other installed defensive systems.

Most Dodger systems incorporate non-trivial predictive software to attempt to prevent being 'painted into a corner', and may be integrated with other capabilities such as holing and/or pointing systems.

- - - -

Cheeser - Originally "Swiss Cheeser", this term was coined with the creation of the first combat bushbots and has since been utilized for any combat system capable of 'holing'. It originally referenced a baseline foodstuff known for having voids within its structure.

Fair warning: It is not uncommon to find archaic historians utilizing the term in pun wars or puntests.

- - - -

Pointing - A defensive measure utilized by some amorphous constructs or ufog systems. In many ways, this capability is the counterpoint of 'holing'. Instead of projecting attack vectors and removing mass from the area of likely effect, Pointing systems project attack vectors and add mass to the area of likely effect, often appearing as long conical 'points' directed at known threat sources.

These relatively dense, non-critical points tend to disrupt the effects of the weapons systems targetting the construct or ufog prior to the effects reaching critical systems. Some pointing systems are specialized and optimized for specific threats - some are intended to polarize incoming electromagnetic energy, or diffuse it, or partially reflect it. Other systems utilize differential densities in their points to deflect incoming kinetic energy systems away from the protected core.

It is not uncommon to have amorphous combat systems switch between holing and pointing in high-threat environments, but as most ufog systems are deployed to defend critical nodes and points (such as modosophonts without amorphous capabilities, for instance) they are much more likely to utilize a form of pointing than holing. Note that many upper-end augmentations or systems with such critical nodes may utilize a combination of pointing and dodger systems, however.

- - - -

Spoofing - A subset of active, polymorphic defenses, spoofing is an attempt to get opponents to waste offensive effort. Due to "painting in a corner", spoofing systems create patterns reminiscent of known-vulnerable holing systems but have intrinsic countermeasures to said known vulnerabilities built in.

An alternate form of spoofing is creating holes in front of high-value components or points protecting low-value components.

Countermeasures

Paint Into a Corner - a phrase commonly indicating that a sophont or subsophont system has been recognized and its common responses utilized to place said system in a non-tenable position. Examples include the now-infamous flaw with the Genetekker Dodge-9 hominid central nervous system augmentation process that could be used against its owner trivially to lead to a rapid cranial collision with a 'ground' surface in standard gravity. Others include recognized flaws in early Cyberian aivisors that could be leveraged into inducing sophont upload in all but the least survivable scenarios.

-------

Twitch - A not-uncommon augmentation for many modo-compatible weapons systems, Twitch causes a pseudo-random deflection of a projectile (energy or mass) to compensate for amorphous Holing capabilities. This is typically an augmentation that may be activated or deactivated with little difficulty as the reasons for its use are often rapidly altered during a conflict.

Early forms of Twitch style responses were typically added to 'smart', 'brilliant', or 'genius' projectiles intended to independently target systems. These remain in use today due to the difficulty in predicting exact attack vectors from such carefully shielded systems.
 
Related Articles
 
Appears in Topics
 
Development Notes
Text by John B, with additions by AI Vin

Initially published on 12 October 2009.