Designed as much for its symbolic shape as for utility, the arcblade, also referred to as the "laser shovel", is a distinctive weapon, the very image of which is inextricably bound to the mythos of The Five Heroes. While the arcblade is synonymous with the Arc Inititate's values to uphold justice and liberty, its use is not limited to initiate members and is available throughout the Celestial Federation in a wide variety of models from both large and small manufacturers.
The weapon consists of a plasma cutting beam emitted from the shovel blade and, when equipped with a directional focusing crystal, a forward firing laser. This makes the arcblade both a versatile digging, chopping, and cutting tool, and a ranged laser staff weapon.
Powered by an internal microfusion power core, arcblades can often last many months between refueling, making them an ideal tool for the wandering tradesman.
With the establishment of the Arc Initiate following the Thullarian Civil War, West Thullaria needed a practical utilitarian weapon for their newly formed peace core. With gun technology in its infancy, no major military force had yet to adopt breach loading rifles. The small size of the Arc Initiate made it ideally suited for experimental deployment, and for the first time a combination shovel-rifle was created, the famous SR-1 arcrifle. Beloved by initiate members, it was quickly adopted by greater West Thullarian forces by year 11830 and became widely recognized around the world following the Outer Ring War.
<p>Developments to the arcrifle continued over the centuries, eventually leading to the first arcblade in 12095, which enhanced the utility of the tool with a plasma cutting blade and eased logistical use by replacing ammunition with electrical requirements. Early arcblades used strictly battery and capacitor banks to power them, having limited charge. With the advent of fusion technology and subsequent inclusion of microreactors, the arcblade became the widely adopted tool that exists today.
Moving to an energy-powered design removed the reliance on ammunition, but it was still limited by poorly performing electrical batteries and prone to overheating. Early models used hip-mounted battery packs to supplement additional power at the cost of ungainliness. This, in addition to blade-jacketed water cooling made the arcblade heavy and unpopular among soldiers compared to the then highly refined arcrifle. Karl S. Voith was the first to successfully develop a technology to extend the use of the arcblade's battery and reduce refractor heatsink area by using a regenerative system of carbon-silicate plates ahead of the emitter. This significantly reduced overall battery drain by redirecting stray electron wash that was otherwise wasted in the form of dissipated heat. Modern Voith exchangers account for over 30% of the arcblade's beam strength.
The typical arcblade consists of a metal or carbon handle shaft attached to a duranium blade. Power comes from a hydrogen-helium microfusion power core, where electricity is routed into the capacitor bank by the computer control unit. High power cutting or ranged laser shots pull from the capacitors, usually capable of 20-seconds and 20-shots, respectively, before the capacitors need to recharge. Low power cutting can be powered directly by the fusion cell and therefore is not limited. Modern archblades utilize a hi-lo auto cutting mode that only engages high cutting power when directly in contact with another object or archblade in order to conserve energy. In usual application of utility or combat, archblades using auto mode can last several minutes before needing to recharge their capacitor banks.
Arcblade laser plasma is initially constituted in an electron acceleration chamber before being routed through the main emitter. It passes a series of focusing lenses, including the cutter/ranged-laser toggle mirror, which controls laser beam shots directed through the primary focusing crystal at the tip of the shovel blade. Beyond the focusing lenses lies the prismatic diaphragm, which evenly disperses the beam across the cutting beam refractor array at the edge of the blade. The refractor array is a series of micro-optical channels that reconstitute the plasma in a focused arc generally 2-5mm wide, with a relative edge sharpness between 5E15-10E15 electrons (0.001-0.002 hydrogen atoms) thick. With such a thin and sharp beam, in normal operation archblades cut mechanically like a typical blade through the displacement of material and not through material mass vaporization.