A Precis

It is the year 2222.

Humans have taken to the stars. And they are not alone.

Mankind is still divided. But it grows, making friends and enemies on the way.

Against this backdrop of galactic intrigue, a small subset of humans have been made different. Genetically Different. They work for a shadowy organisation called the Agency. The Agency uses these individuals and their superhuman powers as hired guns, available to the highest bidder.

It has done so for over a hundred years. But the Agency has a hidden agenda. Ancient alien artefacts have vanished from their collections. Experts have disappeared. And it’s up to a small band of ex-Agency assets to work out what their old employer has planned. Before it’s too late.

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Mobile Refinery

The Independent Mining Guild exists in contrast and opposition to the human megacorporations; the loose alliance of traders, miners, prospectors and scientists strive for the enrichment of themselves and not shareholders. Lacking the resources of the giant corporate monoliths, they often find imaginative and lateral solutions to problems. Furthermore, with no corporate risk boards to satisfy or shareholders to placate, the IMG is willing to take a chance on opportunities the megacorporations won’t.

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The Mobile Refinery exemplifies the spirit of the Guild; the ship is built around a mostly empty space. This gap is large enough to scoop up small and medium sized asteroids, comets and other resources. The ship’s crew can then break the material down and separate off the most valuable resources, all without needing to return to a base or installation.

The vessel has to travel with separate transport ships as it lacks significant capacity of its own. It is slow and unwieldy to pilot; vulnerable to attack and unarmed. Most Guild captains consider their jobs risky and only hire escort ships if absolutely necessary.

Esox

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The Esox is the primary ‘heavy hitter’ of the Widebrims. It is a rugged Corvette-scale vessel, designed to destroy enemy capital ships with explosive ordinance. To this end it features two forward mounted missile launchers with customisable load-outs. A ship of its scale does not require a large supply train, meaning it can travel more inconspicuously compared to a military corvette. The vessel is rugged, living environment for the 12 crew spartan, computer technology limited. The basic, reliable technology forms a double-edged sword. On one hand, the missile targeting and specificity of a more advanced vessel can lead to better precision and efficiency in battle. Alternatively, the weapons of the Esox are less likely to fall victim to ECM and other countermeasures.

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The ship is vulnerable to attack; it’s greatest defense is a thick hull and an evasive pilot who does not commit to a fighter-heavy combat zone. The ever-adaptable Widebrims have re-purposed the ship as a combat minelayer and a boarding craft, to name but a few variants, but its main role remains as a dedicated and efficient cap ship killer. A full salvo uninterrupted by flak can destroy a capital ships up to four times it’s size.

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Jutland-class Combat Corvette

The Jutland-class Combat Corvette is almost too big to be classed as a corvette; it is almost double the weight of the Bremen-class and is commensurately well armed. The Jutland is designed to operate independently in the lawless frontier territory of the Rim regions, to require limited support and adapt to its surroundings. The design has been well tested against Wun’Tux, Gnobo and Hirudin corvettes and rarely been found wanting. Inferior foes (pirates, raiders and other ne’erdowells) no better than to mess with one.

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Armament comes in the form of two pairs of Linear Cannons and a forward facing missile battery. This array of weaponry is what gives the Jutland the ‘combat’ label of its classification; unlike most corvettes which are designed to escort larger ships, the Jutland is an out-and-out bare-knuckle fighter. The design was borne from necessity; the ship’s predecessor (The Orkney-class) was lightly armed and armoured, more a patrol craft than a warship. Over thirty were lost in the early days of Task Force Second Sabre, outclassed by superior opposition.

The Jutland isn’t perfect; it is slower than the American and European corvettes and is too ungainly to enter planetary atmosphere. Weapons depend on ammunition, levels of which can run low on extended operations. The more ‘boxy’ shape means ships of her class often make a bigger target for opportunist strikes. Even so, the rugged and dangerous corvette of the Royal Navy remains a workhorse of human intervention in the Rimward colonies.

HMS Abergele and Abersoch are perhaps the most famous Jutland-class vessels, gaining notoriety through the Vilathi Rescue. On a deep space patrol near Wun’Tux territory, the pair of ships came upon a large convoy effecting repairs in orbit of the barely hospitable dustbowl, Vilnath IV. Five Clanships stood guard over 3 Wun’Tux bulk transports. Wun’Tux transports tended to be fully laden with resources headed for the alien war machine. The convoy made a tempting target, albeit a risky one. The enemy had strength of numbers but the Royal Navy had the element of surprise.

The British ships approached from two different flanks and unleashed full salvos of torpedoes. Two of the Clanships were taken completely by surprise and all but destroyed by this surprise. The others scrambled to respond, on the back foot and vulnerable to the linear cannons arrayed against them. A slugging match ensued, the transports struggling to get underway behind their escort.

The usually resiliant armour of the Clanships didn’t last long against the linear cannons and the overlapping plates of the Jutlands proved enough to keep them in the right, even when the Abersoch lost one engine. Soon enough the Clanships were routed, two outwright destroyed, and the transport ships disabled. The slowest two contained unrefined durillium destined for Wun’Tux refineries. The third contained a surprise for the Royal Marines who boarded; a hundred emaciated humans from an unauthorised colony world nearby. The hungry prisoners were minutes away from being butchered by the Wun’Tux crew before the boarding action and were elated to see their rescuers. The rescue was recorded and promoted throughout the civilised Core Systems as a cautionary-tale and a morale-boosting piece of military propaganda.

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Velvetbelly Tech Corvette

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The Velvetbelly-class is an advanced support ship marketed as a ‘Tech Corvette’. A high price tag purchases a ship full of bells and whistles, from electronic countermeasures (ECM) to smart minelaying technology and advanced remote hacking tools. The Velvetbelly is not a suitable vessel for just any crew; it demands a well trained crew of 14 or so individuals able to operate a capital ship as well as the advanced sub systems.

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The corvette lacks any out-and-out offensive capability but serves as a suitable support vessel for all manner of operations; civilian, military and outlaw like. The high tech sensor suite means it can act as a remote survey craft or, if a group’s intent is more mercenary, a ‘loot sniffer’ searching for valuable cargoes from afar. In combat the ship can dazzle and baffle foes targeting and tactical systems, restrict movement with mine laying and aid allies in targeting.

F-40

The F40 is a stripped down version of the Pinyin sold to the private market; the design lacks the advanced weaponry or FTL capability of a strike fighter but is a sturdy and affordable option for individuals and groups. A number of aftermarket upgrades and variants have made the ship popular beyond its original appeal.

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The A-Variant (nicknamed the ‘Stinger’ due to its original operators, the Sand Scorpions) features souped up engines and high rate of fire pulse cannons for lightning raids against under protected convoys and traders.

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The F40/B is designed for scouting and recon; mercenaries and pirates typically have one squadron ship outfitted as a B-Variant and use it as a scout and ‘loot sniffer’. The B is even quicker than the A but features thinner armour and no offensive weaponry; guns have been swapped for a variety of lures, micro mines and other devices which can be used to evade or damage pursuers. When operating alone and on low power the B-Variant is small enough to escape notice as it scans and tracks larger ships before reporting back to a main force.

The D-Variant is the so-called ‘stealth’ version; a low sensor-profile is achieved by swapping effective armour for scan-baffling reflective panels and energy shielding. The ship is able to trick most civilian and the cheaper grade of military passive sensors into not ‘seeing’ it. Groups of F40/Ds can either track prey or lie in wait; they only become visible when firing weapons or using engines at full throttle. The simple stealth measures of the variant remove armour and make the ship vulnerable in a straight up dogfight; many D pilots flee when confronted with even lesser foes.

The F40/G (nicknamed ‘Punchdagger’) is one of the rarer variants; it is designed for combat in extremely close quarters. It is the only human ships armed with Wun’Tux ‘Shredder’ cannons; these are usually salvaged from crashed or disabled Twinfang fighters and installed with great care in place of the F40’s pulse cannons. The weapons are almost useless at medium and long ranges; the filament fletchette ammunition is too widely dispersed to be a threat. In close quarters, however, the streams of fire are extremely capable against fighters, light freighters and small capital ships. Punchdagger pilots are though of as daredevils, risk-takers and adrenaline junkies for willing to take on such a dangerous role. Risks are weighed against rewards; the Punchdagger is one of the only non-military ships effective against military fighters and warships – at close range, at least.

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VVG Libatrix

The Variable-Vector Gunship Libatrix is a capable fighting ship in close quarters, deep space and choppy atmospheric flight – the angled, adjustable thrust modules striped in the stand-out teal are at the heart of the vessel’s effectiveness. They take a co-pilot just to keep in check; this crew member usually controls the underslung beta-wave pulse cannons, too, laying suppression fire against a range of targets.

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The Libatrix is the smallest Fukuro ship available on the open market and the only vessel of such size to mount beta-wave pulse cannons.

Wun’Tux “Turnpike”

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The Wun’Tux are in a state of constant flux, of civil war and strife. But not every one of their ships is designed for war; one of their most frequently used vess (human reporting name “Turnpike”) is a barely armed cargo carrier. The lumbering, cavernous transport ships are used to ferry slaves, food and resources throughout the territory of various BroodClans. They are also one of the only adequately sized vessels able to deliver Wun’Tux artillery to a planet’s surface in one piece.

The “Turnpike” is armoured with durillium plate like most Wun’Tux ships; this alone makes up for it’s lack of weapons and yet vulnerabilities remain. It is slow to change course and gain speed; one ship is easy prey for even slow moving, unguided explosive munitions. “Turnpikes” are crewed by Wun’Tux and slaves deemed unworthy of service on a warship; conditions are spartan and morale is typically low. Even the armour plating does not offer full coverage and vulnerabilities can be found by an accurate or lucky shot.

“Turnpikes” are built to last; most in service have been rebuilt, salvaged or fixed up again and again until they are no longer spaceworthy. There are several wrecks on the edge of Wun’Tux territory which provide scrap for enterprising pirates or sometimes a temporary home; providing said group is willing to run the risk of discovery.

Nineteca

For every civilisation spanning multiple planets and colonies, present in the astropolitical sphere and known to most spacefaring people, there are exceptions. Smaller fish. Species happy to keep a low profile. The Nineteca are such a group. Their homeworld is off most of the major trade routes and not easy to access and their people have not been attracted to the gaudy lights and temptations of larger civilisations en-masse. Most sentient lifeforms will never meet a Nineteca, and those that do might not remember it fondly as one of their most noticeable exports is mercenaries; young individuals aiming to earn a dowry for themselves to marry at home.

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Nineteca mercenaries are tough and stubborn; these qualities are replicated in their main warship – a gunship designed for ground attack. This ship is squat and snub-nosed, hardy and slow to manoeuvre. The Shrill Karner is used exclusively by the Nineteca and features a lethal combination of heavy weapons and heavier armour. The mercenaries tend to be hired when an entrenched force on a planet or asteroid; their ships are small enough to evade planetary weapons that may ward off capital ships but tough enough to soften up ground defences and land it’s own troops. The ship is feared even by the Wun’Tux and on rare occasions the USEF have hired Ninetec ships to assist in ground assaults.

Nineteca lost in battle are believed to join their heroic afterlife; the ‘worthy dead’. Funerals are times of great joy; there is equal hounor in this type death as there is in retiring to marry with a proper dowry. Given their inhuman attitudes to death by combat, the missions they’re willing to take – for the right reward – are risky verging on death defying. They are suitably costly.

HK

The so-called Hunter Killers is a mysterious menace; nobody is quite sure where their ships are built and to whose design and yet are very much real and strike fear into the hearts of the most hardened denizens of the colonies. With ability to deal damage at short and long range, as well as a fearsome boarding party ready to terrorise disabled ships, the Hunter Killer is one of the more dangerous threats faced on the edge of civilisation.

The majority of pirates and mercenary forces on the Outer Rim are poorly armed and equipped scavengers; they pick on the weakest and least protected traders and prospectors and are generally scared off by any sort of escort. The groups using Hunter Killers are professional, clinical and extremely dangerous to even well escorted convoys. Their services come at a high price, however, and they are more often used as an expensive tool by one corporation against another.

The ship itself is solidly built with few weakspots in the superstructure. Wing-mounted plasma cannons give short-range bite whilst the underslung tunnelling-particle cannon allows for accurate and devastating offensive capability against armour and hull of opposing ships and facilities.

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It can carry, collect and deploy up to 20 armoured marines in space or atmosphere for all manner of operations, including boarding actions, sabotage and property damage.

The Hunter Killer lacks anti-fighter weaponry but is nimble enough to make itself a harder target for fighters and interceptors than a capital ship. On the rare occasions the ship has gone up against military capital ships of corvette-size and above it has retreated but not without doing a fair amount of damage in return. The human governments have declared the ships illegally armed and banned them from civilised space. This has done little to discourage them from operating in the wild west of the Outer Rim and they continue to gain work and infamy.

The mysterious Hunter Killer gunships and their mercenary crews are a genuine threat to the denizens of the Outer Colonies but mercifully rare. The one effective counter against the ships are capital ships of corvette size and above; vessels tough enough to soak up a little damage but well armed enough to give it back. The mercenaries have access to a corvette of their own; double the size of the gunship with twice the weaponry.

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The providence of the aliens and their technology is not well known but is unquestionably effective. In the one, much downplayed, exchange of fire between an American LCS and the Hunter Killer corvette (HKC) the LCS came off the worse and had to withdraw. What the HKC lacks in turreted weaponry it makes up for in a tough hide and above average agility on the battlefield.

Four heavy weapons are almost unprecedented on such a vessel and would not be possible with turreted weapons; the HKC’s armament all faces forward and requires careful aiming. This extreme focus on forward firing leaves the ship more vulnerable to fighters compared to its smaller cousin, but even these attacks must be strong enough to dent the HKC’s armour.

 

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The XX

Ceres was under siege during the Pan-Eurasian War, one of their only lifelines came from the brave men and women of the blockade runners – those willing to sneak past or outrun through the Union blockade and delivery supplies. Post-War, this tradition of devil-may-care blockade running led several of the noteworthy ship captains to found Express Exports, nicknamed XX, a courier company known for their hot-rod ships and pro-risk attitude to work.

XX captains are brave to the point of reckless, caring little for the odds and much for the notioreity achievable by completing dangerous jobs. They ply the colonies and beyond, some taking contracts from human governments to deliver top secret messages or packages not trusted to traditional means.

The ISS Goshawk is a light freighter aligned to the XX group; it operates throughout the colonies and beyond, ferrying VIP and even more important information between secretive locations and groups, human and otherwise. It’s crew are an equally colourful bunch, hard drinking and verging on arrogant with regards to their skill and worth. They demand high fees to complete their jobs but clients are rarely let down.

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