The Kaiserin-class Light Cruiser

The Kaiserin-class Light Cruiser

The Kaiserin-class Light Cruiser is one of the modern European Union ships designed to update their ageing Navy. Design and production fell to the same shipbuilders responsible for the Bremen-class; the two ships are similar in quality but different in intent.

The Kaiserin-class Light Cruiser

Capital ships are useful and often fundamental tactical assets in modern stellar warfare. But even advanced, modern ships are held back by an old fashioned opponent – supply lines. The larger a capital ship is, the more logistical support it needs to operate. Within the human Core Systems this is an easy feat – the structures and support is already in place. The Rimward Territories contains none of this; most colonies are still developing and supplies are at a premium. Larger capital ships have no choice but to resupply at the Rim’s few industrialised and obvious ports. This creates a ‘trail’ in their wake (eliminating any sense of subtlety or surprise) and limits their range. Smaller capital ships have smaller requirements for supply – they are able to do so away from the main spaceports and the prying eyes often present. The Kaiserin was designed to strike a balance between low profile and high potency.

The Kaiserin-class Light Cruiser

The thin profile of the ship is intentional. In battle the ship can turn to face enemies and present a smaller target whilst being able to target a significant proportion of its weaponry. Furthermore, this thinness presents an odd sensor profile – older systems often misake the ship for something half the size if not looking closely. The latter quality is especially useful if the ship is operating alone in non-friendly territory.

The Kaiserin is designed to operate in two main roles. Firstly, as a flag and command ship for groups of corvettes and destroyers in traditional stellar combat. The vessel is equipped with the communication equipment to coordinate a significant force and is fast enough to keep up with a cruising corvette. Its second function is that of a ‘lone wolf’; embarking on long-range patrols and engaging unfriendly contacts. These missions were traditionally assigned to smaller vessels but the introduction of the Wun’Tux changed everything. A patrol boat or corvette would be no match for a Wun’Tux Clanship; the Union needed something that could meet one and survive.

Cassard Vs. Kaiserin

The Cassard-class is of similar size and displacement. In theory, the older ship is more powerful – her large guns and missile systems can cause huge amounts of damage. However, as demonstrated at the end of the Pan-Eurasian War, the Cassard was outmoded and easily beaten by modern starfighters. Several Cassards were also present at Tordov V. Theoretically they were very suitable participants at this battle – Wun’Tux ships attacked head on and lacked manoeuvrability to evade fire. The groups of Cassards started well, deploying barrages of missiles and heavy fire at the ongoing forces. Once the missiles ran out, however, the Wun’Tux committed more and more of their forces. The guns alone were not accurate or powerful enough to half the Wun’Tux advance and the Cassard’s armour buckled under return fire; only 15% defending Tordov V escaped. The Kaiserin’s designers aimed to address these shortcomings. The armoured exterior and modular substructure have the ship greater resilience under fire. The Kaiserin’s weaponry is not ammunition dependent; unlike the Cassard’s missile launchers. Plasma weaponry and autocannons make for a potent medium to short range combatant.

Cassard Vs. Kaiserin

The first five, including EUS Kaiserin, were pressed into service towards the end of the disastrous Oroso conflict. They served alongside the strike fighters of Grendel Squadron to drive back an Oroso counter-offensive and put an end to the conflict; they were vastly superior to the few Cassards left serving on the front line and these old ships were soon sent to serve ignominiously with the Border Fleet.

Ships of this class are predominantly assigned long range patrols along the Wun’Tux border. They are well equipped to engage lone Clanships; they can use their difficult to hit profile and turreted weapons to good effect. They are under orders to avoid larger forces, though, and exercise operational caution. A number have incidentally been involved with the USEF – either coming to the aid of an American warship or vice versa. This arrangement is a welcome example of thawing frostiness between human factions but remains strictly informal.

Length: 90m
Crew: 84
Role: Long range patrol, flotilla command
Weaponry:
2 x Plasma Cannon Turrets (port and starboard)
1 x dual autocannon turret (keel mounted)
2 x heavy autocannons (deck mounted)
4 x ‘Starsnipe’ flak cannons
Shields/Armour: Medium/Medium
Special Features: Thin Profile. Modular Construction.

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The Veles System

veles

The Veles System lies on the civilised route from the Rim to the Core Worlds. Is was originally discovered and colonised by the US whilst their main rivals were wrapped up in the Pan-Eurasian War.

It contains two habitable worlds; the main one (Veles III) is home to a large population of humans from various factions. The planet itself is Earth-sized and features one, giant ocean and a huge landmass surrounding it from pole to pole. The inland area of Veles III is mostly inhospitable; a hot, arid desert. The coastal areas are more capable of sustaining life and feature various towns, cities and other settlements.

Veles III was a frequent stopover for colonists travelling to the Rim during the first spread of humanity. Most of the American civilians heading on their ill-fated final trip to Freya stopped off at Veles first and the planet features a sombre monument to their memories.

Otherwise, the world is host to a number of young megacorporations; SDI has its corporate HQ on the planet and conducts most of its business from Veles as opposed to the very expensive Core Worlds.

Arnsbrook

Donos

Arnsbrook is the largest city on Donos III and a hub for so-called ‘prism production’. Originally settled by the Gnobo at the start of the Second Age, Donos III was a small and inconsequential colony for a number of years. It was only when a SynTech scouts stumbled upon a large underground deposit of a strange crystal substance that things changed.

Initial testing of the crystal was promising; relatively tiny lens demonstrated an uncanny ability to alter the course and intensity of light. Sensing a paradigm shift, SynTech paid a king’s random of bribes and fees to secure from the Gnobo exclusive mining rights. With little scientific interest of their own, the League were happy to take the money and the subsequent taxes from the human megacorporation.

Arnsbook grew as a necessity around the first Dendranite mining complex; accommodation, shops, schools, bars and parks all sprang up to support the influx of SynTech staff. The planet itself has a warm and arid climate suited to the Gnobo; the city planners drilled deep below the surface to bring underground rivers to the surface for the new human population. The climate particularly suited Earthlings from the Southern Hemisphere; humans skilled in mining and the applied sciences were quick to reserve a place in newly built apartment complexes.

The bright city lights attracted some of the indigenous population, too, and Gnobo civilians both visit and live in Arnsbrook. The relatively small population keep the Saturn Solutions police force busy, but the bar fights and scuffles rarely escalate into anything serious.

The Tordov System

Tordov

Tordov V is a ‘ghost world’; once a burgeoning European Union colony now desolate and empty.

Early in the conflict with the Wun’Tux, mankind scaled back colonisation efforts; governments prioritised the ability to protect a colony over any favourable resources or environmental conditions. Survey ships continued to search for new worlds and report their findings. One planet discovered at the start of the Third Age stood out as particularly tempting.

The fifth planet of the Tordov system was similar to Earth in size, had a oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere and welcoming climate. Topographical scans indicated layers of ore and ‘rare’ earth metals, too. It was, however, on the cusp of Wun’Tux territory; well within the reach of their patrols. The major powers declined the opportunity to colonise one by one until the European Union bucked the trend.

A large fleet of Pan-Eurasian War era vessels accompanied the colonisers. They transported the materials to build an orbital defence platform capable of targeting multiple targets at long range and were crewed by veterans of the drawn-out war with the Asian Coalition. They were led by decorated war hero Admiral Grigor Golovko – a man who held great influence and knew how to use it. They considered themselves prepared.

For six busy months no threat emerged. Construction on the surface took shape; the first city expanded and grew. The defence station was tested and found to fuction and the fleet ran readiness drills on a regular basis. Golovko had hoped a show of force would convince the Wun’Tux to leave the world alone. But it didn’t.

The Wun’Tux came eight months after the colony formation – scouting parties at first; easily driven away by the Union ships. But these forays were only testing the water.

BroodClan Xylos arrived with a hundred ships – an intimidating formation of capital ships and Twinfang escort. The orbital defence station opened fire the fleet at extreme range – each shot destroyed or critically damaged a Wun’Tux attacker. But the reptiles had arranged their weakest ships at the front of the vanguard; the station’s cannon was unable to attack anything of real value as the aggressors drew inexorably closer.

Golovko’s forces had cut their teeth against the smaller, quicker adversaries of the Asian Coalition. They were not used to fighting against slow, armoured foes such as the Wun’Tux. Their organised formations were easily targeted by the stronger Wun’Tux weaponry. Ships exchanged fire at the periphery of the battle; the Union counterparts coming off the worse.

The orbital defence platform came under fire next. Although heavily shielded and thickly armoured, it presented a static target. The larger Wun’Tux ships formed a flying ‘square’ and concentrated fire from their biggest guns. Salvo after salvo began to ship away at the station; Golovko and his best ships were diverted to tackle these ships but they were outnumbered and harassed constantly by Enforcers and Gunships.

The facility lasted an hour under sustained fire; it was able to inflict critical damage on several of the larger Wun’Tux ships but was soon surrounded and overpowered. The explosion was seen from the planet’s surface and sent colonists into panic; rioting and escape attempts made the Union’s ground defence near impossible. An attempt to rally around Golovko’s flagship was brought to a quick end by it’s destruction; Union forces were routed and staged a ragged retreat. Wun’Tux utilised their air superiority to besiege and bombard Union ground forces into submission. The assault lasted four days; defenders held out hope of reinforcement but the Union Navy were unable and unwilling to gather enough ships to try to break the siege.

Xylos harvested wave after wave of slaves; their main Broodmothers took the best specimens and traded away the rest to less respected BroodClans. The old and sick were left alone on the planet; the reptiles did not consider them worth even a quick death.

The ruins of the colony remain; decrepit, overgrown and home only to the rodent-like scavengers native to the world. The occasionally enterprising human ignores the ghost stories about the colony to head down and raid for scrap or old equipment but most stay away – through fear, respect or a mixture of both.

The loss at Tordov V – along with the disastrous conflict with the Oroso –  prompted a major overhaul in the European military thinking and equipment.

Innspoint

Inns

Innspoint is the capital city of Scallia V, a temperate planet on the Oroso-Human border. Scallia V is one of the planets shared out between the Oroso Conclave and various human factions following the brief conflict at the end of the Third Age. Innspoint has been rebuilt since the battles and bears few visible scars of the orbital siege and bombardment it underwent from both sides.

The city is a mix of human and Oroso districts; a handful of buildings accommodate the species living side by side. Although living mostly separate, the relationship between the two groups is cordial; the city council is made up of an even split and generally avoids acrimony. Xenophobic members of each species are unlikely to move to the planet, nevermind the city, and veterans of the Third Age conflict from both sides are taken care of.

Innspoint is a trade outpost first and foremost; a base for human and Oroso interests but also attracting commerce from the Trinax and Gnobo. The busy central districts are well served by shuttleports and there is a purpose-built stardock to accommodate larger ships.

It’s odd mixture of human and Oroso architecture and culture is unique throughout the known galaxy and attracts tourists and academics alike. The former are tempted by Oroso accommodation and cuisine, whilst it is not unusual to see gaggles of young aliens enjoying human feasts over reruns of the Superbowl.

TB-55

Sometimes old ideas are the best. The Russian TB-55 is a low tech weapon of brute force; a slow moving and heavily armoured gunship capable of devastating damage from its twin warhead launchers. The ’55 has outlasted many technologically superior ships and remains a potent force in the European Union navy.

The ship is a giant compared to most starfighters; it has the lumbering pace of a giant to match. Even when it reaches top speed the ship is difficult to manoeuvre and an easy target for interceptors and flak fire. And yet between the thick armour and its sheer potential for damage the ship well liked and well used.

The design has barely changed since the Pan-Eurasian War in which it was used to siege and destroy Coalition fortifications and armour – one of the many reasons the Coalition chose to oppose the Union with hit and run style tactics over a slugging match. The post-War threats to the Union came in the form of alien species. Although the Oroso were able to avoid and isolate squadrons of TB-55s before they could do damage, the ship was found to be extremely effective against the Wun’Tux. Their durillium armour was very resiliant against energy weapons but weak against explosives – the TB-55 was able to field an inordinate amount of such weaponry per ship; just three of them were capable of destroying one Clanship in two bombing runs.

The vessel is decidedly old fashioned in design. A lack of automation means the ship requires three crew just to get off the ground. Outmoded sensors and electronics means it can be ‘spoofed’ by cutting edge jamming or stealth techniques. On the other hand, the ship is rugged and easy to maintain- it has few specialist components and repairs can be affected with salvaged equipment. This allows the ship great durability in the field.

The European Union lost precious ships, personell and resources at Tordov V. The late Admiral Golovko’s successor- Vice Admiral Reyneso – favoured a less gun-ho tactical approach. She deployed wings of TB-55s to repel subsequent Wun’Tux incursions, successively blunting further offensives and giving the Union time to reorganise.

TB-55 losses are common; the ship is big enough to be hit by flak fire and slow enough to be vulnerable to enemy interceptors. It has seen most success when deployed only once enemy fighter forces are engaged. The Russian 4th Bomber Wing (nicknamed the ‘Red Foxes’) worked alongside Grendel Squadron in the months following Tordov V using this exact tactic; the fighters would engage Wun’Tux fighter cover and allow the TB-55s to operate more freely. The Red Foxes chalked up an average of 1.5 Clanships per sortie.

Wun’Tux Dropship

The Wun’Tux dropship is the workhorse of many a BroodClan in spite of several fundamental flaws in its design. The ship’s main role is to deliver armoured warriors to the fray – be the battle in deep space, in orbit or planetside.

It accomplishes this through being very difficult to destroy. The prow and flanks are armoured with the same blend of durillium plate that makes Clanships so durable; it is incredibly resistant to small arms fire. Thus, even though it is unarmed and manoeuvres like a brick, the ship is an incredibly dangerous target.

The dropship deploys troops via two armoured flanks which open when an area is secure. Opening these panels during live fire leaves the dropship vulnerable to fire from both sides and is only risked in an emergency. The only other weak spot is the engine block – damage delivered here can cause internal explosions or other catastrophic damage. Twinfangs are usually deployed alongside the dropships to protect their engines and get them to the target intact.

Several of these ships were destroyed before even taking off at the slave market of Dronta VIII – guided missile strikes from orbit were able to zone in on their engines. Surprise attacks remain one of the safest strategies to combat them.

The ship is also used in slave collection and transport – the unfortunate souls are crammed in so tightly that the environmental controls struggle to cope. It is not uncommon for weaker slaves to die in transport, the wicked and brutish ship their last memory.