The Ephii (pronounced ‘ee-fee’) are one of the most prevalent species in the known Galaxy; they are adaptable and hardy in spite of their relative small stature. They evolved from a type of tree-climbing mammal and retain an ancestral dexterity and love of heights. The Ephii have no formal government and are not a powerful bloc in galactic politics. This lack of oversight means individuals can and do operate without bias and can be found as mercenaries, rogue scientists, scouts, guides and explorers throughout known space and beyond.
Adult Ephii grow to an average of 4 feet tall but have strong bones for their size and are not as delicate as the seem. They have a life expectancy of 45 years and reach physical maturity by 10. They can see in low light and their ears – not to be confused to their characteristic hair tufts on either side of their skull – can hear at human level as well as higher pitches. Many Ephii work as scouts, spies and observers and these characteristics give them an edge over human and Gnobo competitors. Ephii peacefully co-inhabit several human, Gnobo and Oroso border worlds and this prevalence means they can blend into the background easily; another attribute used by Ephii snipers, spies and clandestine operatives.
As a species they are known for their adaptability and good character; generally gregarious and more likely to build bridges than burn them down. Anthropologists argue this openness is an after effect of Ephii society’s lack of interstellar government but either way the value they place on individuality and small scale relationships effects how they view the world and vice versa. This charming and open nature is juxtaposed against their significant influence in black markets and underworlds, especially of the human-Gnobo-Oroso border worlds where these civilisations associate – intentionally away from their government centres.
The Tempest is the larger cousin of the Albacore and serves as an elite fightercraft of Task Force Second Sabre. Nicknamed the ‘Super Strike Fighter’, the Tempest is designed to do the job of the Royal Navy and then some. It is almost triple the weight and features the large engines in V-configuration to make sure the ship is quicker than its apparent bulk.
Although unable to match smaller fighters for speed or agility, the Tempest features heavy shielding and a rugged disposition. The Albacore is armed with two fighter-scale rail guns whilst the Tempest features a cockpit mounted pulse cannon with missile hardpoints on and in the stubby wings. It is often equipped with heavy weaponry with which to harass and do damage to capital ships and orbital targets.
The Dittisham-class is a starship produced during the Third Age of humanity. The ship was advertised as a ‘Armoured Transport’ and aimed at the growing colonist and expansionist markets; people and groups who would want to get goods and themselves from one place to another safely, come-what-may.
The ship features two open cargo bays designed with ease of access in mind; the magnetic sealed during interstellar travel but not suitable for unprotected human habitation. Cargo crates could be loaded and unloaded quickly and efficiently, though, the the vessel was used by a variety of individuals to support developing colonies and industry.
The Dittisham-class was also modified by the Halfpenny Dukes to work as a Command Corvette; a ship not just able to deploy ground troops and vehicles but also able to provide command and communication support for a decent-sized force in attack and defence.
The ship is quicker and sturdier than the Monksclove-class in spite of its larger size. Additionally, the Dittisham is armed with a number of fast-tracking flak turrets to make it a less than appetising target for enemies.
Most modern military commanders view tracked vehicles as outmoded throwbacks to a bygone age. Such vehicles, however, tend to be reliable, sturdy and cheap compared to their futuristic alternatives. The Halfpenny Dukes are a perfect example of this logic.
Their main force is comprised of 100 ‘Steelbug’ tanks. The short, squat vehicles are basic and without frills but have myriad advantages in the context of the lower tech Outer Rim battlegrounds. They can be landed on a planet from small, non-specialised ships and quickly prepared for battle by their crews. They are easily repaired and cope well in a range of environments from airless asteroid to snow-covered tundra. Their low profiles mean that many larger foes (like the Wun’Tux armour or choice) have trouble targeting them at middle to long distances.
The group is known for their role during the defence of the human-Gnobo settlement on Rotan VI. A minor Wun’Tux BroodClan launched an unexpected offensive against the planet, whose government put out an urgent plea for mercenary assistance. 50 Steelbugs arrived prior to the Wun’Tux forces making landfall; augmenting the militia of larger Gnobo tanks. The Steelbugs fought a delaying battle against the invading Voidwalkers, keeping them at mid-to-long range before retreating. They utilised their mobility in the streets of the settlement capital, splitting the focus of the Wun’Tux ground troops whilst their Gnobo allies attacked on the flank.
It was the arrival of a Second Sabre fleet rather than the ground troops which eventually forced the Wun’Tux to retreat, but the planet’s population were most grateful to the defenders on the ground. Half of the Steelbugs were badly damaged or destroyed but the generous payment from the settlers and governments helped cushion the blow.
The ‘Boon’ is a hospital-ship servicing the human border territories. The ship’s mission is funded by the MSF and is primarily aimed at supporting humans and other friendly races who are unable to help themselves. The ship is unarmed but unafraid to skirt around conflict zones if help is needed.
Above: Pictured taking on wounded from a European Union shuttle
The ISS Boon is equipped with a large hospital ‘ward’ as well as an operating theatre and a wide range of special pieces of equipment.
Above: Pictured taking on wounded from a European Union shuttle
The ship operates a strict no-weapon policy; people refusing to stow their weapons are barred from accessing the vessel or any of her life saving technology.
The P-91 Amberjack is a popular and versatile fightercraft favoured by a variety of independent operators throughout the human Core and Outer Worlds. It tried and failed to become the European Union‘s post-War interceptor of choice but found willing buyers on secondary markets. There are a number of modification kits available to specialise the ship into certain roles, a fact which only adds to its popularity.
The stock version of the Amberjack is not equipped with a FTL drive and this dependence on a carrier-ship was the main reason the ship lost out to the Caracal (which went on to become the main Strike Fighter of the Union Navy). A number of ships had been produced already; these were soon sold on to the secondary market and became popular due to their ability to handle tight turns and their durability; the dual hull design of the ship led to high structural integrity. Although less well armed and slower in a straight-line, the Amberjack was considered comparable in performance to the American Scimitar fighter, for instance.
The ship has found favour in the ranks of various independent operators; legal and otherwise. In lieu of a carrier-vessel, some of these groups have made simple modifications so that the ship can be hooked onto external racks of capital-ships for long range travel. There are a number of Widebrim versions which have been converted to travel short distances using FTL drives salvaged from more advanced ships, but this grafted-on jump drive tends to make the ship more fragile. Other modifications (the interceptor and stealth variants in particular) tend to improve the ship in one way but make it all around less rugged. For some this is a price worth paying.
Above: the popular ‘Interceptor’ variant in the foreground