The Blackfin is the first ‘crew-lite’ ship put into service by the Hirudin. Named after a ferocious carnivore of the Hirudin homeworld which was for hundreds of years the apex predator; until the Hirudin gained their powers of manipulation and brought it under their control. The Blackfin is designed to be swift and deadly; able to operate independently and mostly undetected until it decides to reveal itself.
This stealth is achieved via technology and tactics; clever ECM and sensor-ghost shadows forming the cornerstone of ship systems. The subset of Trinax enslaved by the Hirudin are viewed as cowardly thralls by their masters; it’s true that they have little stomach for battle and will flee at the first hint of defeat. The Blackfin is unique in that it features a collective of Hirudin – usually 4 or 5 individuals – as it’s captain. They control ship systems centrally via an advanced neuro-techno interface; any manual labour is performed by on-board drones.These robots require no life support, meaning the ship can prioritise other systems.
Blackfins are the smaller end of capital-scale, technically, but operate more like their namesakes than naval assets. Sometimes they stalk prey alone from the safety of their sensor-shadows. Sometimes they work in packs to track and trap convoys of precious cargo. The mere threat of Blackfin attack is enough to make a seasoned merchant panic; the ship’s name is spoken with hushed tones. Hirudin – like the Wun’Tux – have no formal peace treaties with any species. They are known to probe and test at the border shared with the European Union colony worlds. The Blackfins avoid formal combat and instead sneak around, engaging isolated ships when conditions favour them.
The auxiliary pre-War warships of the Union lack sufficiently clever and advanced sensors and fire control to hit the Blackfin very easily and several of the Cassard class have been crippled in such an engagement. The newer Union ships have turned the tide against these insidious invaders, using advanced fire control and detection to track and outfox the Hirudin. The ship’s flaws are not difficult to discern; her weaponry is potent, but short range and unsuitable for prolonged engagements. Aside from it’s ECM and stealth abilities, it has little protection from fightercraft. What armour it has is angled to deflect enemy sensors and integrity suffers accordingly. Additionally, due to their insistence on ‘seeing’ space, the Hirudin ship masters’ bridge is visible on the surface of the vessel. It is made of a transparent metal alloy but remains vulnerable. “Smash the fish bowl, win a prize,” is a Union Navy jape frequently used.