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<   No. 4167   2020-01-14   >

Comic #4167

1 Spanners: I’ve rigged the landing gear with a defensive mechanism so the port workers can’t damage it.
2 Paris: A force field of some sort? An electrified perimeter that will short out their nervous systems?
3 Paris: A super-hard nanotech surface material, capable of withstanding any projectile or cutting tool?
4 Spanners: I drilled some holes in the hull. If they approach the ship, we pour boiling oil on them.

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Such holes for defensive purposes historically have the quaintly appropriate name of murder holes.

These are similar to machicolations in function, but distinct in architectural construction. A murder hole is simply a hole bored through the floor above to the ceiling below, whereas a machicolation is an opening between the supportive corbels that jut out of a wall to support another architectural element placed above - often a battlement parapet in the case where the machicolation is used as a defensive opening.

A parapet itself often has many regular gaps to allow defenders to observe the surrounding land and to fire defensive weapons such as bows through. These gaps are known as crenels or embrasures, and a wall containing such gaps is said to be crenellated. The bits of wall between the embrasures are known as merlons.

Not just any old person was allowed to build a place with such fortifications. Outlaws or people with a grudge against the crown might wish to have a defensible stronghold in case of attack, so it was in the interests of the crown to deny this privilege to anyone except those people of good standing who could (presumably) be trusted. This gave rise to issuing the trusted nobles a licence to crenellate.

This was of course the forerunner of MI6 agent James Bond's "licence to kill".

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