My AEROSTAT CITY is under siege by space pirates!
Picture Dubai on air pillows. I imagine a chain of a few dozen aerostat "city blocks" linked together like a pontoon bridge to form a long flexible wing, each are an industrial "pillow" with luxury residential towers on top. During the attack they will break apart or deliberately separate into disconnected islands. See my placeholder art, but (like an iceberg) there is more volume beneath the cloud deck (and thanks to Worldbuilding, I now know the towers will not poke out of the clouds like this).
There's no chance the pirates will try to occupy the city, there are not enough of them and they aren't well organized. Their strategy is to "shake the tree" until the wealthy and powerful evacuate in private yachts. The pirates then pick and choose which targets they will follow into deep space where they will be isolated, easy pickings. They might keep this up for weeks or months before a naval force arrives from another system.
They will be aided by colluders from within the city performing acts of sabotage, so the strategy is to overwhelm the city's rescue sevices and induce a panic. Normally pirates would not be this bold, and the city is slow to understand the strategy.
Since the city is an aerostat it's no fortress. It can rise and lower in the atmosphere and surf the winds to maneuver. It has a squadron of jet fighters and short-range energy weapons. It's defense relies on gunships patrolling in orbit, so the pirates are staying out of range.
Can the pirates use torpedoes and depth charges to attack the city?
Here's my strategy:
- Pirate ships draw away the gunships with distraction attacks.
- Torpedo ships sneak into the planet's lower atmosphere.
- They launch torpedoes laterally under the city.
- Torpedoes disperse a swarm of (barrel bomb? chemical?) explosives that rise like reverse depth charges.
What I don't know:
- How does traveling lower in the atmosphere effect the torpedo boats? Can I use common submarine tropes and say the boats are designed for deep atmosphere? I am assuming the city must eventually find and destroy the boats to stop the attack, but I don't know how far I can carry a submarine metaphor. Can a deep atmosphere torpedo boat "hide" from the city above – maybe in the shadow of the explosive swarm?
- What are the explosives and how nearby do the explosions need to be? I am assuming they can't simply detonate an atomic bomb deep under the aerostat – or can they?
- The pirates want wealthy targets who are fleeing the city with their valuables intact and radiation free. They are not trying to destroy the city outright, but they don't necessarily care about the welfare of any refugees – however for the sake of pirate morale, how might the attack be modulated to maximize panic and confusion, without simply nuking everyone or sinking the city?
- I'm looking for a "death by tiny cuts" strategy that would also make economical sense for pirates (no exotic weapons, no suicide missions, just ad hoc ships being sneaky).