Affectionately nicknamed ‘Blackjack’ for it’s monochrome colour scheme, the SPC-7 is a Blackmane-produced patrol ship and escort. It is seen most frequently around the smaller human colonies of the Rimward Territories where it is often the workhorse of the local militia.
Blackmane originally designed the System Patrol Craft 7 for use in the Core World colonies, but humans expanded more and more these worlds became safer and the frontier was pushed further still. The Blackjack was instead purchased by new governments not content to expect protection from the fleets of the Core Worlds.
These fledgling governments were initially attracted to the low price point of the ship, but on reciept of purchase were pleasantly surprised. New crewmen found the SPC-7 to be slow but sturdily built for her size. Her armament comprises of two flak turrets for tackling enemy fighters and warheads as well as a chin-mounted photon cannon for engaging larger targets.
The optimum crew level stands at 6, but at a push the Blackjack can be ran by a pilot and gunner. They are most frequently seen escorting bulky transport ships in and out of gravity wells. Occasionally a government warship will press them into service as part of a pirate hunting fleet, a role in which they also excel.
Manufacturer: Blackmane Spaceworks
Role: System Patrol, Escort
Crew: 6 (but can be controlled by remote)
– 1 x Frag-Shell Launcher (chin-mounted, forward firing)
– 2 x Flak Turrets (side mounted)
The ship class Brig refers to a capital-scale cargo vessel with sufficient armament to defend itself. Most types are able to serve as makeshift warships. All in all, Brig is an archaic term which is seeing increased use as humans expand their horizons to the further reaches of space.
The Dawn Chorus-class is one of the more modern Brigs. Her heyday were in the first steps towards the human Rim. During this Third Age expansion the ship was reliable but slow, expensive to run and poorly armed. The cheaper, more effective FTL drives of the Fourth Age, however, made the Dawn Chorus cheaper to run. More energy efficient FTL drives meant the ships had an abundance of energy, leaving capacity for higher quality shields and weaponry.
The ship’s solid infrastructure is protected further with layers of armour plate. The most popular armament involves a long-range plasma cannon, two photon cannons and flak turret protection. One legitimate use of a ship armed in such a way is as an armed merchantman; able to trade without the need for a paid escort. More regularly the ship is used as a pirate or privateer flagship.
Several Dawn Chorus-class ships served on the side of the Asian Coalition in the Pan-Eurasian War. The most famous of these, the ISS Kiwako, spent the best part of the way harassing Union shipping and evading their slow, outdated navy. She plies the Rimward territories still, one of the famous pirate ships able to embarrass the Border Fleet.
Above: The ISS Kiwako escaping fightercraft from the USEF
Manufacturer: Dutch Defence Vehicle Systems
Role: Armed Merchantmen/Pirate
– 1 x Plasma Cannon [with targetting pulse generator]
– 2 x Photon Cannon [turreted]
– 3 x Flak Turrets [dorsal and keel]
Agency Asset Beta-77: Codename ‘Cinderfoot’
Cinderfoot’ is a genetically-different asset with the ability to emit large amounts of heat from his body at will. His ability burns most bright at his feet, hence the moniker. He cannot project this heat beyond his body, rendering him useless at range. However, his ability can be used to melt all but the most advanced metal alloys: allowing him to burn through walls, ceilings and floors to reach a target.
His ability – when turned ‘on’ – renders him impervious to damage from heat and burns, including most energy weapons. Additionally, he can melt incoming solid projectiles before they reach him, making old fashioned slug throwers equally useless.
That being said, Cinderfoot is extremely vulnerable when his power is not ‘on’ and he can only be actively superheated for periods of five minutes or so before his ability needs to recharge. During this period he is as vulnerable as any human. Additionally, if caught in an ambush and unable to activate his ability Cinderfoot is equally vulnerable. He should not be assigned contracts involving extreme cold or hard vacuum for obvious reasons
Notable contracts include; the execution of Amani elders at Praxium VII, the interdiction of European Union diplomats en-route to the Kepler Accords and the assassination of General Trokinov during the Coalition victory at Centauri V.
Above: A pair of T-51s escorting the pirate gunship Daresay’d
The T-51 ‘Switchblade’ is an affordable fightercraft marketed to small militas and other organisations. The fact it lacks at FTL drive is of no concern to this customer base as they are more concerned with defence of static targets, e.g. planetary colonies and orbital stations. Otherwise the ship is a jack of all trades, featuring a balance of attack and defence with a above average sublight speed.
This defense role appeared to be the ships’ destiny until Blackmane, the megacorporation responsible for it’s construction, released an after market ‘Rack Upgrade’. Application of this simple kit meant the ship could be carried on an external rack: a cost effective way to transport it through FTL space without the need for an expensive carrier ship.
This kit was a game changer. The Switchblade quickly fell into favour with pirates, mercenaries and bounty hunters who could install a fighter rack on anything larger than a cargo hauler to transform it into a pocket carrier. The ability to be rack mounted combined perfectly with the T-51’s speed to make it one of the pirate raider weapons of choice.
Above: T-51s escorting the Red Wench.
– Manufacturer: Blackmane Spaceworks
– Role: Interceptor
– Length: 7m
– Crew: 1
– Weaponry: 2 x Pulse Cannons (forward facing)
– Shields/Armour: Light/Light
– FTL: Incapable
“Make fear your friend: the enemy will have you both to worry about.”
– Wing Commander McDevitt, Black Ace Leader.
The Albacore is another de Havilland design utilised by the Royal Navy. Produced in response to the American Strike Fighter Project, the design brief was for a FTL-capable ship with adequate armament to engage a large variety of foes.
Whereas the Tomcat and Caracal are armed with direct-fire weapons and warheads, the Albacore’s sole armament consists of two forward-facing mass drivers. These are distant relations to the rail gun, high velocity, high rate-of-fire weapons with an explosive kick. Mass drivers were picked for maximum effectiveness against durillium armour plate favoured by the Wun’Tux Clanships, akin to the Linear Cannon. In actuality, although lacking the tactical flexibility of warheads, the mass drivers make the Albacore the most well-balanced of the human strike fighters.
It’s streamlined ion-engine gives the Albacore a high sublight speed, a modulated shielding system gives add protection.
Like most strike fighters, it is extremely expensive to produce and replace and demands quality, expert personnel. Rarely risked, the Albacore is a sight feared by enemies and cheered by allies.
Manufacturer: de Havilland
Role: FTL-capable Fighter
Weaponry: 2 x Heavy Mass Drivers (forward facing)
FTL: Capable (short-range)
Naval weaponry can be roughly divided into two categories: direct-fire and guided munitions. The former group includes any weapon that attacks in a relatively straight line, from attacker to target. The latter can include missiles, rockets and come smart mines and explosives. In this article some of the more prevalent examples will be briefly touched upon.
Direct Fire Weaponry
Direct-fire weapons can be scaled to fit anything from single person fighters to capital ships, mounted on turrets or fixed. They have the single advantage of requiring no ammunition in order to function, simply a readily available power supply. However, they are of medium range and rely on line-of-sight to strike targets. They range from slow firing, high damage varieties (e.g. plasma cannons) to quickfire, low damage-per-shot designs (e.g. pulse cannons). They are the main armament for most ships in the known galaxy, barring some notable exceptions.
Guided Explosive Projectiles
Missiles and rockets remain important parts of any arsenal. These can be mounted on fightercraft, fired from capital ships or even surface-to-space in defence of a planet. They do not require line of sight and some can dodge and evade enemy interference on their way to their target. Their main advantage is the large damage even a single warhead can cause. However, ammunition is fundamental and a ship dependent on missiles can see itself low on warheads during a pitched battle. Unlike direct-fire weapons, guided munitions can be intercepted and destroyed en-route by various forms of point defence. Additionally, their targeting systems can be jammed and they can be knocked off course.
Mines can be deployed in deep space, around planets or other installations to augment existing defences. They can wreak havoc against the unprepared and special equipment is needed in order to defuse them.
Some weapons are ‘hybrids’, bridging the gap between both direct-fire and guided munition.
Fragmentation cannons – favoured by the Wun’Tux – are direct-fire weapons which require ammunition but cause explosive damage with each hit.
The Linear Cannons and related rail-gun or gauss weaponry – developed by human forces – are also direct-fire weapons which necessitating ammunition; their armour piercing abilities are often worth it.
Above: The Red Wench with two T-51s.
The Red Wench is the flagship of a notorious pirate lord Karu of the human Outer Rim. The ‘Wench began life has a delapidated cargo skiff whose captain one day came upon the wreck of an old Russian mining outpost. This particular wreck featured a cicular power capacitor: an innovative and efficient method of providing sustained power on a small scale. The first captain of the ‘Wench paid a large portion of his life’s savings to have this capacitor integrated with his ship.
The crew of the ‘Wench had previously lived on rationed power: ships systems would often go down, mid-task, due to a lack of consistent power. The upgrade changed all of that. She was able to task on longer hauls, more hefty cargo. And as her profile increased, the cautious captain took on more weapons to keep jealous rivals at bay.
The threat did not come from without, though. The captain of the ‘Wench was killed in his bed by none other than his mistress and first officer, Sallar Karu. Charismatic and clearly ambitious, Karu turned the crew onto a life of piracy and vice. The Red Wench swapped transporting precious cargo of megacorporations and local governments for raiding them and selling the content on the emerging black market.
The ‘Wench is fearsomely armed for it’s size. Two forward mounted fragmentation cannons can strike slow moving targets from a distance. A pair of flak cannons protrude directly from the capacitor ‘ring’ meaning they rarely lack power. Just forward of the bridge area sit two particle cannons mounted on turrets. The capacitor ring also features two rack-mounts for small fightercraft. This impressive variety of armament makes the ‘Wench a tough target for the usual ships escorting it’s prey.
The efforts of the Border Fleet to track it down have been unsuccessful to say the least, in spite of the large bounty on the head of the ‘Wench and her captain.
“Si vis Pacem, para bellum.” – Task Force Motto.
Task Force Second Sabre (TF: SS) is the British equivalent of the USEF, a naval force based outside of the Core worlds and with a wide remit to protect British interests throughout the Rim. Like it’s American counterpart, Second Sabre has an wide-ranging mandate to undertake proactive offensive measures against threats human or otherwise.
The Task Force operates out of the Chromedent Nebula. The base is built into the surface of a large asteroid, augmented by orbiting stations and platforms. The nebula offers a degree of protection from active and passive scans and the location of the base is a closely guarded secret. Navigation staff sign an enhanced version of the Official Secrets Act and face stern punishment in those caught revealing sensitive information.
Second Sabre most often tangles with the outlying Wun’Tux brood-tribes. These are the most ambitious and violent of the Wun’Tux factions and are more willing and likely to raid human territory for slaves and resources. Second Sabre forces have been involved in several punitive and proactive assaults, using carriers and strike fighters to outfox their reptilian opponents.
Noteworthy combat elements include:
The DK77 ‘Keepsake’-class fighter is the most modern Royal Navy HG fightercraft. The forward mounted pulse cannons and ‘wing’ solar panels give the little ship it’s distinctive appearance: the latter are often tinted with the colour scheme of the squadron or ace pilot in command of the ship.
The Keepsake was developed by deHavilland Spaceworks to replace the sluggish Second Age Type-27 fighter previously utilised in Royal Navy hangar bays. The military demanded a nimble and tough interceptor comparable to the American X-33 space superiority fighter. deHavilland delivered.
The fighter was built around the pug-nosed weapon suite at it’s fore. The designers created a quartet of pulse cannons able to function in harmony: three of them would cool and recharge as one fired in a repeated, intricate dance of military electronics. Although not capable of sustained fire, this pulse cannon assembly can fire staccato bursts of pure energy and makes the ship an excellent dogfighter.
The ship possesses the usual prerequisites for the interceptor role: fast acceleration and fine manoeuvrability. It lacks the ability to carry warheads and has light shields and armour integrity befitting it’s small size. It’s best defence is it’s speed and agility.
The first Keepsakes were assigned to Task Force Second Sabre, the Royal Navy naval force operating throughout the Rim.
Manufacturer: deHavilland Spaceworks
Role: Carrier-grade Interceptor
Weaponry: 4 x Pulse Cannons (forward facing)
The Cassard-class Heavy Destroyer was a cutting edge piece of military technology – at the close of the First Age of FTL travel, at least. Notable for its forward mounted bridge and awkward appearance, the Cassard was more than just visually striking. Its formidable armament consisted of high yield, long range particle cannons and forward-firing warhead launchers.
In it’s heyday it was a rival to even American heavy cruisers. But unlike the Americans, the European Union had limited appetite for war in times of peace; military budgets subsequently withered.
Even so, the Union had the superior military at the outbreak of the Pan-Eursasian War. Their Coalition opponents were dealt a number of defeats and routs by groups of Cassards working in formation. The blockade of Ceres was made possible by the firepower they could bring to bear. With little hope of besting the ships with their own military, the Coalition turned to mercenaries to survive. For an eye-watering fee, the ’7th Heaven’ Squadron of the Tailored Saints offered to check the advance of the Union Fleet around the Kepler System.
They were good value for their fee, though. The Union Fleet, ledby the EUS Dupleix, were routed by the fast moving fighters of the 7th Heaven Squadron. Ultra-modern ECM technology meant the Tailored Saint interceptors could operate against Cruisers with near-impunity and had managed to destroy or disable several Cassards before reinforcements could arrive.
The loss of the Dupleix was a watershed moment in the war. The old Union fleet engaged much more conservatively from then on, always within fighter cover. As a stopgap measure, the remaining Cassards were retrofitted with anti-fighter weapons. The panicked Union policymakers diverted unprecedented funds into military budgets in response to the War, however, and the Cassards were eventually replaced with more modern designs.
A handful remain in service, loaned to the Border Fleet as part of the Toronto Treaty. The remaining Cassards were bought by the Free Brigades mercenary group.