Dusters are particle spraying weapons. They evolved later than Squirts did, but filled an excellent niche by becoming a close range crowd suppression system. Dusters work two ways: Stream or Spray. Because they use dry particulate matter, projected by one of three ways: EM acceleration, High Pressure or "Beam riding". They are also an excellent way to use Hylonano. Powdered diamond hard alloys in stream mode are outstanding cutting agents similar to "water saws", sand blasters and grinders.

Thin tight streams of dust can act like a saw or sandblaster. Often this particulate matter has excellent penetration of soft matter, but is less effective against harder, reinforced matter, unless at extremely close range. In spray mode, the weapon vents a conical shaped blast that often clouds and strikes many targets in a short range. Often non-lethal in this mode, it is used by police and other organizations desiring non-lethal deterrence.

Linear EM acceleration gives a good range, but results in a very thin cone of high impact dust. The flow can be adjusted to be heavy enough to deliver an effective impact strong to knock down many targets, or destroy light metal and organic materials. High pressure Dusters operate by compressed gas or air. Beam riding dusters use an electron beam or other particle beam that creates an ionized channel for which particles can travel in a pencil thin line for quick bursts. These particles are moving fast enough that they can often sand away many harder minerals and metals. These are the most rare, and power consumptive of all Duster types.

The lethality of Dusters is almost completely determined by the particulate matter used. It can be as fine as dry nano, or as large as grains of sand. Ammunition for a Duster suffers the same problems as with Squirts in that it is heavy and often quickly consumed. Dusters often have lighter ammunition than Squirts or Muskets, since it is often lighter density matter, but suffer from the same bulk restrictions as Squirts.

Dusters that spray active nanotech can cause severe damage to a target, although this may occur some time after the initial attack. A dusting with viral poison or slow disassemblers can cause fatalities or loss of infrastructure several hours or days afterwards if not treated.

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Text by Michael Boncher
Initially published on 25 May 2004.