"Do not be wary of what you can see; be wary of what you cannot see instead."
- -Motto of the "Ghost Corps", an elite group of Confederate-aligned assassins
|The most simple explanation of the Fibre Optics there is.|
|Brief||Literal 'Invisibility Cloak'|
In Pursuit of Invisibility Edit
Camouflage has, in one form or another, existed for almost as long as warfare has existed, if not longer. The ability to hide amongst your surroundings until the right moment is often the difference between life and death in a large battle. Thus, it is no surprise that the steps leading to Fibre Optic technology had their roots in an escalating technological war. In the great wars, the Allies and Soviets often did whatever they could in order to make their troops just slightly harder to see; the first shot could make all the difference. The Soviets, being rather tactless and under-resourced compared to the Allied nations, attempted to hide their tanks by magnetising the hull and drawing dust towards it, hiding it under a layer of dirt. This experiment failed, however, as the dust often got into the engine, and so the Soviets resorted to using dull colours to mask the approach of their armoured divisions. The Allies, however, decided to turn to their laboratories for their response. The development of mirage fields and GAP technology was hailed as a revolution in stealth, and seemed poised to win the war for the Allies once and for all.
The field did indeed help the Allies turn the tide of the war by winning several key battles, and were far superior to the simple paint system used by the Soviets. However, there were two downsides; complexity and power. Both of these systems had many small parts, intricate workings, and required many calculations to maintain. In fact, for most of these systems, one of the new 'computers' had to be present on the field, housed in an Allied Tech Centre to accommodate their massive weight and demand. By contrast, the Soviets could start pumping out tanks in their muted colours near instantly, and with little difficulty. As well as this, large amounts of power were required, to keep the field maintained. This forced these 'technological breakthroughs' to be restricted to specialised vehicles, increasing their expense exponentially. Soon, this technology took a toll on the Allies, costing them a small fortune. Allied Command was up in arms; once again, the simple, crude Soviet system had merits above the intricate, advanced Allied technology.
Near the end of the war, eager to address these problems Allied research labs were tasked with creating a system of stealth that required minimal power, was simple to use and maintain, and as cheap as possible to create.
The Cloak of Stealth Edit
The solution came from a relatively unknown American firm. Their only real claim to fame was their presentation of a crude system which allowed a specialised material to change its colours to match its surroundings. Dubbed 'Fibre Optics' by the firm, this original version was not particularly effective, being only slightly better than the Soviet system but still requiring power, it never saw wide use outside of America as a cost-cutting measure, primarily on the Bulldog during WWII. However, this new wave of interest in stealth caused the firm to try a different, experimental approach.
Shortly after the end of the war, the American research firm presented their findings. The result was surprising; it had been long theorised that artificial materials with certain properties would have a "negative refractive index", which would cause light to bend around the material, effectively making it invisible. Through a highly classified process, the research firm was capable of producing a fabric that would bend light in the microwave area of the spectrum around itself. When viewed with a camera designed to 'see' in this area of the spectrum, this fabric and anything underneath it appeared nearly invisible. The system showed multiple benefits; it required no power, was incredibly effective, was cheaper than quite a few alternative technologies, and would only stop 'working' if damaged. With Allied Command intrigued by the results, this firm was given a sizeable grant to continue their development of this new 'Fibre Optics'.
Energised by their funding increase, the firm was able to improve the fibre until it was completely invisible in the microwave spectrum. With their concept proven to be capable of complete invisibility, they set about duplicating this result in the visible spectrum. The process was further refined, rumoured to have been improved by Japanese nanotechnology, and 'Fibre Optics' took its first steps towards total invisibility. The visible spectrum is more complex than the microwave spectrum, however, and the progress was slow but steady, making strides towards this goal. It looked certain that the Allies would soon gain 'Fibre Optics' for themselves, and win the war of stealth.
A Change of Hands Edit
The Allies would not gain their technology, however. The firm had nearly perfected their project, creating a fabric that would make anything covered by it blurry and indistinct against virtually any background, and was so effective that a tester was able to evade a group of trained Spies for nearly an hour before being spotted. What happened next, however, would place this powerful discovery in the hands of another group.
The Confederate Revolutionaries held a major raid near the firm, hoping to cripple a group of nearby Allied supply lines. It was then that a fatal choice was made; a group of the researchers gave the defending Peacekeepers Fibre Optic cloaks to test in the field. The cloaks proved to be uncommonly effective; the relatively small group of Peacekeepers was able to take on the much larger group of Confederate soldiers, causing high fatalities. It was only when a lucky shot by panicky Minuteman was able to take a stealthed Peacekeeper down that the Rebels realised the existence of this technology, and at once they grasped its significance. Changing targets to the research firm, every paper, sample, or piece of equipment relating to Fibre Optics was looted, to the point of walls being broken down in order to see if anything had been hidden inside them. Once the rebels were certain they had found all that they could from this site, they set it ablaze, to make sure that anything they may have missed could never be recovered. Over the next month, nearly every laboratory belonging to this firm was looted and vandalised nationwide, forcing them into bankruptcy.
Despite not having nanotechnology at their disposal, the Confederates knew where they could gain their own 'supply'. A Confederate strike team managed to infiltrate Hawaii and 'borrow' some machinery used in the production of Imperial nanomachines, framing it as an attack by the Syndicate. With this at their disposal, along with years of detailed notes on the subject, the Confederates were able to duplicate and eventually surpass the earlier experiments, until they had perfected Fibre Optic technology.
Fibre Optics Today Edit
Fibre Optics, although not as widely used as PAWI technology, is nonetheless a powerful force at the Confederate's disposal. It does have downsides. The first is cost; although Fibre Optics is cheaper than, say, Mirage technology, it is still far more expensive than most other equipment in the Confederate arsenal. As well as this, the Confederates still only have a single version of the Empire's machine (although the Confederates are working to 'acquire' more), and destroying this would effectively halt their production of this material. It speaks to the advantages of Fibre Optics that there are rumours that the equipment is moved every two weeks to combat this. However, this lack of money and equipment effectively limits the amount of Fibre Optics that can be produced.
However, the benefits of Fibre Optics speak for themselves. Fibre Optics allows near complete invisibility of an object, and when PAWI cannot be used Fibre Optics is a perfect substitute. While PAWI arrays take training to use effectively, a Fibre Optic cover can be packed into a trunk, and thrown over the vehicle once it stops without much difficulty. As well as this, it is reusable and requires no power; for these reasons Fibre Optics is incredibly popular in the more environmentally-oriented groups in the Confederate army. One very big final benefit is, ironically, stealth; if a person tried to bring a portable PAWI generator into a building, they would be thrown out the instant they were spotted. Fibre Optics can be concealed in a hilariously simple manner. In production, the light-bending properties are only placed on a single side of the Fibre Optic cloth. While this was intially so that people would not lose their invisible cloth, Thieves found that they could decorate the non-cloaking side as a stylish poncho, allowing them to simply walk past checkpoints before slipping under it for their operations. So prevalent has this trick become in Confederate ranks, Allied checkpoints in America have taken to confiscating picnic rugs and the like from cars, fearful that their opposite side may be the newest breakthrough in stealth.
Keep in mind that Fibre Optics is not perfect; concealed objects can be revealed to a careful commander. Animals can still smell objects underneath the fibre, and will alert their masters. Sound is also not hidden; careful listening could give a hiding troop away. Finally, there is the danger of dust; dust, snow, water, all can still pile on top of the Fibre Optic cloak. While they will not 'deactivate' it, a sharp-eyed soldier can spot dust piling up in midair and sound the alarm.
Behind the Scenes Edit
'Fibre Optics' as described here is (obviously) completely different from real life fibre optics. It is based on light-bending metamaterials, a science currently under development.