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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MBT Noisebringer

The Main Battle Tank (MBT) named Noisebringer is true to its name; it creates a lot of volume and destruction to boot. The Noisebringer is a stable part of human armies since the dawn of the Third Age; the original stock design has been retrofitted and upgraded several times with newer turrets and smarter armour meaning the vehicle has remained a useful battlefield asset over many years.

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The frame features four armour plated legs with few exploitable weak points compared to the longer, more vulnerable limbs of a Planewalker. The armoured limbs do not make the tank agile, however, and drivers are often frustrated at how long the thing can take to get moving following a full halt.

The stock model came equipped with a simple, single barrel autocannon and limited computer assisted targeting. This meant the Noisebringer could be piloted by a crew of two but the weapon proved under-powered against Wun’Tux and Gnobo armour. Later updates added heavier and more advanced weapons, often requiring a third member of crew and creating a rather cramped internal crew space. The upgrades put the gunners on par with rival species, though, and the cramped space was deemed worth the payoff.

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The smooth-bore frag-cannon variant became a firm favourite, doubling the Noisebringer’s effective range and armour penetration. The Chatterbox variant takes the design in the opposite direction; it swaps range for tripled rate of fire. Three barrels work in serial to provide rapid and sustained fire support at short to medium range against a variety of targets and makes the Chatterbox an excellent sentry and flank defender.

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The stock Noisebringer formed part of the Union army embarrassed at the Battle of Dren Gully; the tanks were unreliable in the dust storms and canyons of the changing battlefield and many were broken down and faulty before they reached the real fight. Several enhancements to reliability have been made since.

Wun’Tux “Rex”

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The Wun’Tux raiding ship (human reporting name “Rex”) is an odd duck; it eschews traditional Wun’Tux vessel design, opting for minimal armour and high speed. The one way in which it stays true to the central martial philosophy of its designers is in armament – it features one, underslung tunnelled bore fragmentation cannon, perfect for armour penetration.

The “Rex” sees use in two main roles. One is as a flanking vessel, able to strike at the vulnerable sides of larger vessels already entangled in combat. The near constant civil war in Wun’Tux space means the ship is always in demand.

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Its other major role is as a commerce raider behind enemy lines. The quick moving, narrow-profile “Rex” can hit mercantile convoys lightning fast. Light Wun’Tux armour is still a match for the outdated weapons of most escort ships and the “Rex” is able to inflict devastating damage against cargo ships before withdrawing.

Grendel Squadron

Grendel Squadron are the European Union’s premiere strike fighter group. Their pilots are predominantly German, a fact reflected in their codename and livery. The first recruits were drawn from the elite of the Union fighter core and pressed into service at the close of the Union-Oroso conflict. They helped to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and since the conflict their reputation has only grew.

Their craft – the Caracal – is the largest and slowest of the human strike fighters. Keeping it safe from agile craft able to take advantage of said vulnerability is firstly a tactical skill and secondly one of piloting instinct; both are qualities bred into Grendel pilots. Their first major success – the blunting of the Oroso counter-offensive – came from a patient manovering and decisive use of warheads against Oroso capital ships. Their success buoyed Union morale; their legend began to grow.

Although slower than its nearest rivals, the Caracal is better armed as recompense. It fields a plasma cannon and can mount a selection of warheads; the latter in particular means it can be adapted to suit a variety of mission profiles. The FTF-22 ‘Novacrash’ missile is a fast-reaction warhead capable of ‘fire and forget’ function. It is quick enough to track light fighters and powerful enough to destroy their shields and hull in a direct hit. The Wun’Tux victory at Tordov V led to further incrusions into Union territory. These strikes, led predominantly by Wun’Tux capital ships, were countered by Russian bombercraft. Grendel Squadron provided fighter cover for these sorties – Novacrash missiles accounted for almost 60% of Wun’Tux fighter losses.

The Re’knorr System

The Re’knorr System is located on the Gnobo-Wun’Tux border. Its main planet was once (around the start of the human Second Age) occupied by the Gnobo League but became a focal point for Wun’Tux aggression when the two races first met. The Emberforged Mercenary Brigade fought tooth and nail to defend the planet but were ultimately unsuccessful; thousands of Gnobo colonists were taken as slaves and the planet abandoned.

The Battle at Re’knorr was the accumulation of an extensive defensive campaign by the Emberforged; they had successfully interdicted Wun’Tux naval forces at various sites along the border and protected more developed colonies from invasion. Re’knorr III was the weak link in the chain with regards to defensibility and terrestrial conditions; the terrain favoured Wun’Tux walking armour and heavy infantry.

The Wun’Tux assault fleet outnumbered the defending vessels three-to-one. Even so, the Gnobo fought effectively and bravely – destroying half of the escort fleet and numerous troop transports before they could land. It wasn’t to be enough, however, and the defenders on the surface were unable to defy such overwhelming odds. They fought to the last soldier but their defeat left thousands of males and young to be taken as slaves.

The Emberforged had damaged or destroyed enough of the Wun’Tux ships to blunt their offensive; a number of colonists were snatched and the slavers withdrew to their borders with the spoils of war. Even still, the Gnobo League regard this battle as the most dishonourable of defeats. The Emberforged were removed from the position of League defenders and carry a collective sense of guilt with them to this day.

Partizan

The Partizan hovertank is a popular skirmisher and patrol unit in human armies and militias. It features lightweight armour capable of shrugging off small arms fire but which struggles against heavier weapons. The tank’s main defence against more burly opponents is agility and guile, aided by four belly-mounted repulsor engines.

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The turreted pulse cannon boasts a high rate of fire but low damage and penetration compared to larger calibre weapons. Any combat against more armoured opponents is risky and best avoided. If such battle is sought, a wily Partizan commander will attempt to limit the engagement to an environment advantageous to her; urban landscapes with lots of cover or swamp-like land limiting the movement of heavier foes but not Partizans. They are not suited to all environs, however; the dust and sediment of arid worlds can play havoc with the repulsors.

Length: 8m
Crew: 2 (One driver, one gunner)
Role: Patrol, skirmishing
Weaponry: 1 x Pulse Cannon Turret (top mount)
Shields/Armour: Light/Light
Special Features: Low drag, high agility.

Sunrunner

The Sunrunner is a common Ephii vessel utilised for small scale cargo and courier operations. Other more niche variants exist, aided by the basic design and potential for modification built into the simplicity of construction.

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They can operate with a crew of just one and (when they travel at low cruising speed) have an enviable fuel efficiency. Understandably they are sought after by budding entrepreneurs throughout the galaxy. The ship has a number of drawbacks, however; non-Ephii tend to find the confines of the stock model tight and restrictive (the average Ephii being only four and a half feet tall). Additionally, the ship’s cargo capacity is small enough to preclude carrying heavy equipment or bulk cargo. Often it just isn’t big enough for profitable jobs and is not set up to carry anything on external mounts.

Hirudin Gunship “Gimlit”

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The Hirudin Gunship (reporting name “Gimlit” is a potent weapon; it is a tenacious and powerful craft which is equal to an entire squadron of regular human fightercraft. As usual with the Hirudin, their self preservation instincts are built into the ship itself. It is designed to withstand punishment and has a quick reaction FTL drive to allow easy escape if odds turn against the Hirudin.

Hirudin in charge of Gimlits see their posting as a stepping stone – they are eager to be promoted up to more sturdy and pretigious vessels and very few of them become truly talented at piloting. This means Gimlit pilots sometimes lack the ‘instincts’ to take charge or advantage of a situation but even so they shouldn’t be underestimated.

The main weapon, a tunnelling particle cannon, is extremely capable of laying waste to formations of fighters as well as slow-witted individuals caught unawares. Hirudin pilots are well known for avoiding conflict until it is in their favour; prospects of a fair fight as rare.

One of the early Union Strike Fighter Groups, Gargoyle Squadron, were decimated by a triplet of Gimlits on one of their early shakedown patrols. The eight Caracals were conducting a combat patrol through the border trade routes to the galactic north west; their commander had fought over the same territory years prior against the Oroso. The patrol was more of a show of force than a genuine military operation. The Squadron scared off a few pirates and impressed the local trade convoys but little of note and the pilots were almost relaxed. Little did they know that they had picked up three shadows early on in their patrol.

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Gargoyle Squadron Insignia

Three Gimlits were following them from star system to star system, easily tracking and predicting each jump along the trade route. The Gimlits ignored the civilian targets, eager to make a bolder statement.

The trap was sprung from a debris field three of the Gargoyles had moved closer to investigate; one Gimlit attacked the first of these three ships, the other two hitting the remaining squadron hard. This tactic emphasised the first rule of Hirudin warfare; whenever possible, pick your battlefield. The attack of a superior force threw the humans into disarray and within minutes half of them were destroyed or crippled. The Gimlit was able to out-turn the Caracal and the latter’s thick armour was no match for tunnelling particle cannon bursts. Unit cohesion was lost on the Union side and two junior flight officers fled, leaving their commander to be destroyed. The Gargoyles were never reformed and the fierce reputation of the Gimlit was written in their bloody wake.

Tigermoth

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The Tigermoth is a FTL-capable multi-role gunship produced by the Ephii in partnership with deHavilland, a human shipwright company. The fact that the ship is constructed away from the Core Worlds lowered costs and allowed the project to fly ‘under the radar’ of several rules and regulations usually applied to gunships, armed freighters and sub-corvettes.

The vessel is at home in atmosphere as well as hard vacuum; a rear-dorsal thruster suite enables short bursts of speed and agility on top of its regular respectable turn of speed. Agility is aided by a lightweight space-frame of folded-durillium and silver steel alloy; an expensive combination. The default model is fitted with the ‘puck’ a densely packed collection of electronic warfare, scanners and countermeasures. This piece of equipment can give veteran pilots an edge against older ships in opposition, even if they arrive in greater numbers.

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The Tigermoth is an expensive vessel to own and operate; independent groups might prefer to purchase two of an older, less capable ship for the same price. Additionally, through unconscious bias or otherwise the controls are more suited to an Ephii navigator/gunner; superstitious crews prefer not to ship out with at least one Ephii member aboard.

It comes equipped with two underslung particle cannons, forward firing, as well as 4 hardpoints for missiles, fuel tanks or other equipment. Explosive-specialised Ephii captains often opt to mount mine launchers over forward firing munitions. This tactic can be devastating against slow moving and tactically stubborn targets, best evidenced by the exploits of the Obdurate Sin in defence of the Ephii colony world at Desii IV.

Desii IV hosted a human mining and processing installation in the Second Age; it was far off of the beaten track and this distance from the Core Worlds meant it avoided rules, regulations and worker’s rights in order to strip the planet bare of minerals and resources useful to industry. Years later and once the world had become closer to civilised space the crumbling installation was spotted by Ephii scouts who put down roots. The corporation had went bust years beforehand so the buildings were free game to the adaptable colonists. Within two years the colony had become a hub for artisans and their families; small businesses, factories and garages. Within three it had attracted the unwelcome attention of a young Wun’Tux BroodClan

Younger BroodClans tend to be the most ambitious and risk-taking; a scouting patrol so close to the human border was the act of a BroodMother eager for acclaim. The first contact came in the form of four Enforcers; these were able to shell the colony from afar and in the confusion Wun’Tux snatch squads were able to abduct fleeing civilians. The colony did not have a standing militia and at first was unable to mount any sort of response; only the quick thinking of a pair of demo-experts utilising ground-spike mounted rocket launchers were able to scare the Enforcers away. But the colonists knew they would be back, and in greater numbers.

An SOS brought a single Ephii transport; lightly armed and not equipped to evacuate the city. The civic leaders hastily assembled a makeshift defence force from whatever could be found in the workshops and forges. The ace-in-the-hole was the ISS Obdurate Sin, a only recently constructed Tigermoth gunship. It’s crew had been staying on planet awaiting live fire trials and ,with the promise of a hefty reward if successful, they were willing to help. A plan involving the remain explosives was concocted; a gutsy and audacious idea with the potential to give the Wun’Tux a very bloody nose.

The Wun’Tux returned three days after their first assault; the Enforcers were still showing signs of damage but the two Clanships were fully operational. The Ephii transport was playing possum, pretending it had become disabled just Sunward of the colony as it was trying to escape. Two Enforcers diverted to intercept, lured by the prospect of a transport full of slave labour and ripe for the taking. Only then did the ‘Sin emerge from it’s shadow, flanked by three snubfighters. The ‘Sin was able to use its high tech sensor-suite to fool the Wun’Tux and make these three small ships appear like thirty. In reality the Ephii snubfighters were too lightly armed to penetrate durillium armour but the trickery caused the attackers to panic.

The ‘Sin executed what looked to be an overconfident fly-by of the closest Enforcer before looping back to the main force. At first it seemed the gunnery sensors were off; several particle cannon bursts were inaccurate and the Wun’Tux formation became overconfident, positioning itself close together as to maximise zones of fire. Confusingly, the ‘Sin proceeded to buzz two more ships, flying dangerously close. Only when there was an explosion at the first pair of Enforcers did the Wun’Tux realise anything was amiss. On closer inspection, but all too late, they detected a pair of anti-sensor coated objects at extremely close range. A pair of explosions later and more chaos ensued; it was at this point the ‘Sin showed it’s true colours and struck with accurate and deadly particle cannon blasts. Cracks in the armour of the still spaceworthy ships allowed the fighters to finally do damage; the shellshocked Wun’Tux ships were soon routed.

One Clanship escaped and the BroodClan never returned; they returned to Wun’Tux space and – eager to avoid shame – reported back that Desii IV was a well defended world with a significant standing fleet. The Obdurate Sin and her crew were given freedom of the colony and regularly visit in between mercenary jobs. The victory popularised the Tigermoth as well as the stealth-coated mines designed by the Ephii sappers.

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The Kingfisher

 

The Kingfisher is the name of an ongoing field test of Asian Coalition defence technology; a fast-moving, unpredictable threat to enemies of the Coalition navy and beyond. The Kingfisher is of similar scale to many small freighters and heavy shuttles but mistaking the vessel for an entrepreneur is often the last mistake a selection of pirates and bandits make. The Kingfisher also sets its sights on the various alien species who often linger around border territories; Wun’Tux, Hirudin and Gnobo. The tunnelling-neutrino beam emitters, pride and joy of the Coalition’s Special Weapons Division, have proven extremely effective against even the toughest Wun’Tux armour plate.

Unfortunately for the Kingfisher project, political pressures often loom over the high cost of running the ship. Although the four-person crew considers such tasks tedious, they are often required to capture enemy ships and cargo for salvage. The Kingfisher deals in neutralisation of threats before the more low-tech support ships arrive to take control. This supply chain is the real Achilles Heel of the project and pirates have been known to set traps to try and strike there, forcing the Kingfisher into a defensive role for which it is not suited.

Type-81 Scout Miner

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The Independent Mining Guild is an alliance of anti-corporate groups loosely aligned for protection and prosperity.

The most frequently utilised ship design is the type-81 Scout Miner, a self-sufficient capital ship able to scout for, identify and harvest valuable minerals and resources. The ship is equipped with side-mounted mechanical arms and an external hangar bay to store and operate a smaller scout ship or armed escort.

The ship is has industrial armour but only light shielding; it is an easy target for pirates if found without an escort. The IMG ship captains tend to take risks if the reward is potentially lucrative.  

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