Lancer

The idea that the Gurdergen are adverse to combat is broadly speaking untrue; it might be fair to say they don’t like to get their hands dirty but for the right price or reward can be convinced into fighting. Their Lancer is a perfect example of such philosophy.

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The Lancer is a specialised vessel; in essence it is a mobile, rail-gun artillery piece in space. The weapon is able to breach shields and armour in half the time of other weaponry and coupled with extreme range the ship is a deadly threat in the right hands. Conversely, the ship is almost useless at short range; it cannot bring the cannon to bear and has no other weapons with which to defend itself. The ship has been nicknamed ‘Glass Cannon’ by the humans who have fought alongside it. The Gurdergen who decide to take up the mercenary lifestyle hire out their services to the highest bidder but are quick to rout or escape if the odds aren’t in their favour. Lancers are often hired to augment mercenary, private as well as government forces with heavy weaponry.

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Sisca VII News Reports

23.07.88. AFP Dispatches.
The Sisca System has been closed to all traffic and is under a communication blackout, Union Military sources have said.

Rumours of a Wun’Tux raid on the newly opened Rimward Stock Exchange are rife amid the blackout, with several unnamed American sources confirming that this is an alien incident and independent merchant captains talking of narrow escapes from the Wun’Tux before they could attack.

The main colony of Sisca VII was established 40 years ago and hosts a variety of corporate manufacturing and research centres. There is no formal military presence but the colony does fall within the remit of the Union Navy who have so far refused to comment beyond the communication blackout.

Wun’Tux raiding parties rarely venture past the Rimward colonies and, if confirmed, this attack could mark a worrying development in their tactics. Why ships were able to make their way so far into human territory without detection is not yet known. A USN spokesman told our agency: “We will investigate any incident within the border and act, even if the correct government won’t, against alien aggression,”

Sisca VII is home to 41,000 men, women and children and is a stop on several trade routes.

30.7.88. AFP Dispatches.
Authorities are still assessing the damage to Sisca VII following the surprise attack from the Wun’Tux last week. A thousand people are confirmed dead, with over five thousand presumed dead or taken as slaves.

The European Union Navy (EUN) are also counting their losses; the EUS Ajax took heavy damage and is trapped in orbit until it can be fully repaired, whilst corvettes and fighters were lost fighting the Wun’Tux rear guard.

Terrence Jardine, CEO of Blackmane Industries, survived the assault. At a recent press conference, he praised his corporate security forces: “Without these brave men and women, the damage to the city could’ve been much worse. The important work of the Stock Exchange will not be stopped by these cowardly strikes at the heart of our interests,”.

There is still no explanation how such a large enemy force struck a colony deemed as ‘safe’ undetected. The European Union Navy has been quick to downplay the idea that new technology playing a role, but unnamed British sources have not ruled out the possibility.

The UN Refugee Agency is appealing to any ships able to volunteer time and cargo room to help with relief efforts. Several prominent businesses plan to withdraw to the Core Worlds and workers and their families may follow suite.

Reporting Name: Tiller

Wun’Tux Transport, reporting name “Tiller”. Intelligence Report. Grade C; encryption level Alpha.

The Tiller marks a worrying evolution in Wun’Tux ship design and tactics – the reason why requires a little background. Wun’Tux ship design and military strategy have remained unchanged significantly for decades if not longer.

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Overwhelming force in head-on attacks are common. Ambushes are more rare but used in order to achieve military superiority against certain foes. Mobile, agile and responsive tactics are not generally seen – the Wun’Tux war machine isn’t built for it and their military successes against opponents using this style of warfare (most famously the Illayko) lay fresh in their minds. And whilst the Tiller is by no means fast, it represents a stepchange in Wun’Tux tactics.

Previous versions of this report have been dismissed by military attaches; they should do so at their peril. The Tiller is unarmed, yes, but has been used with great effect in several recent attacks on human and Gnobo holdings. The Tiller design is inspired by the ubiquitous Clanship; it uses the same basic structure and so is just as sturdy under attack. So far, so predictable. The unusual part comes when you see the Tiller in action; it is built as a thief. The aft section of the ship is built to carry shipping containers used exclusively around the human and Gnobo border. In this sense, the Wun’Tux are using our efficiency against us. Worse still, the Wun’Tux have recycled hijacked cargo containers in later raids as makeshift drop pods and slave carriers. This has doubled or even tripled the efficiency of traditional Wun’Tux methods.

The new BroodClans seem to be at the forefront of these new tactics; several prisoner interrogation transcripts state Soulfront are at the fore.

Reporting Name “Drongo”

Reporting name “Drongo”. Classification: Dropship.

The Drongo sees widespread use as a boarding craft, dropship and slave carrier within and without the empire. It is a slow, armoured ship and capable of extended operations within a battlezone. The ship is unarmed; the main threat comes from the heavily armoured troops it can carry (often in spaceworthy vacuum suits) or even the physical threat of ramming. The armoured durillium prow can inflict damage on less sturdy vessels.

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The internal spaces of these ships are cramped and spartan; when used to transport slaves they are often deadly. Conversely, the small space can be chaotic and a lucky and/or well organised group of slaves can overpower the crew. A number of Drongos have been taken over this way and returned to human space. Some have been refurbished for use in undercover and intelligence work.

The slow, lurching vessels are vulnerable to starfighter attack; especially accurate fire delivered to weak spots in the armour plate. Drongos usually operate with a fighter escort of their own to mitigate against this clear vulnerability.

Mobile Refinery

The Independent Mining Guild exists in contrast and opposition to the human megacorporations; the loose alliance of traders, miners, prospectors and scientists strive for the enrichment of themselves and not shareholders. Lacking the resources of the giant corporate monoliths, they often find imaginative and lateral solutions to problems. Furthermore, with no corporate risk boards to satisfy or shareholders to placate, the IMG is willing to take a chance on opportunities the megacorporations won’t.

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The Mobile Refinery exemplifies the spirit of the Guild; the ship is built around a mostly empty space. This gap is large enough to scoop up small and medium sized asteroids, comets and other resources. The ship’s crew can then break the material down and separate off the most valuable resources, all without needing to return to a base or installation.

The vessel has to travel with separate transport ships as it lacks significant capacity of its own. It is slow and unwieldy to pilot; vulnerable to attack and unarmed. Most Guild captains consider their jobs risky and only hire escort ships if absolutely necessary.

Esox

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The Esox is the primary ‘heavy hitter’ of the Widebrims. It is a rugged Corvette-scale vessel, designed to destroy enemy capital ships with explosive ordinance. To this end it features two forward mounted missile launchers with customisable load-outs. A ship of its scale does not require a large supply train, meaning it can travel more inconspicuously compared to a military corvette. The vessel is rugged, living environment for the 12 crew spartan, computer technology limited. The basic, reliable technology forms a double-edged sword. On one hand, the missile targeting and specificity of a more advanced vessel can lead to better precision and efficiency in battle. Alternatively, the weapons of the Esox are less likely to fall victim to ECM and other countermeasures.

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The ship is vulnerable to attack; it’s greatest defense is a thick hull and an evasive pilot who does not commit to a fighter-heavy combat zone. The ever-adaptable Widebrims have re-purposed the ship as a combat minelayer and a boarding craft, to name but a few variants, but its main role remains as a dedicated and efficient cap ship killer. A full salvo uninterrupted by flak can destroy a capital ships up to four times it’s size.

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Jutland-class Combat Corvette

The Jutland-class Combat Corvette is almost too big to be classed as a corvette; it is almost double the weight of the Bremen-class and is commensurately well armed. The Jutland is designed to operate independently in the lawless frontier territory of the Rim regions, to require limited support and adapt to its surroundings. The design has been well tested against Wun’Tux, Gnobo and Hirudin corvettes and rarely been found wanting. Inferior foes (pirates, raiders and other ne’erdowells) no better than to mess with one.

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Armament comes in the form of two pairs of Linear Cannons and a forward facing missile battery. This array of weaponry is what gives the Jutland the ‘combat’ label of its classification; unlike most corvettes which are designed to escort larger ships, the Jutland is an out-and-out bare-knuckle fighter. The design was borne from necessity; the ship’s predecessor (The Orkney-class) was lightly armed and armoured, more a patrol craft than a warship. Over thirty were lost in the early days of Task Force Second Sabre, outclassed by superior opposition.

The Jutland isn’t perfect; it is slower than the American and European corvettes and is too ungainly to enter planetary atmosphere. Weapons depend on ammunition, levels of which can run low on extended operations. The more ‘boxy’ shape means ships of her class often make a bigger target for opportunist strikes. Even so, the rugged and dangerous corvette of the Royal Navy remains a workhorse of human intervention in the Rimward colonies.

HMS Abergele and Abersoch are perhaps the most famous Jutland-class vessels, gaining notoriety through the Vilathi Rescue. On a deep space patrol near Wun’Tux territory, the pair of ships came upon a large convoy effecting repairs in orbit of the barely hospitable dustbowl, Vilnath IV. Five Clanships stood guard over 3 Wun’Tux bulk transports. Wun’Tux transports tended to be fully laden with resources headed for the alien war machine. The convoy made a tempting target, albeit a risky one. The enemy had strength of numbers but the Royal Navy had the element of surprise.

The British ships approached from two different flanks and unleashed full salvos of torpedoes. Two of the Clanships were taken completely by surprise and all but destroyed by this surprise. The others scrambled to respond, on the back foot and vulnerable to the linear cannons arrayed against them. A slugging match ensued, the transports struggling to get underway behind their escort.

The usually resiliant armour of the Clanships didn’t last long against the linear cannons and the overlapping plates of the Jutlands proved enough to keep them in the right, even when the Abersoch lost one engine. Soon enough the Clanships were routed, two outwright destroyed, and the transport ships disabled. The slowest two contained unrefined durillium destined for Wun’Tux refineries. The third contained a surprise for the Royal Marines who boarded; a hundred emaciated humans from an unauthorised colony world nearby. The hungry prisoners were minutes away from being butchered by the Wun’Tux crew before the boarding action and were elated to see their rescuers. The rescue was recorded and promoted throughout the civilised Core Systems as a cautionary-tale and a morale-boosting piece of military propaganda.

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Velvetbelly Tech Corvette

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The Velvetbelly-class is an advanced support ship marketed as a ‘Tech Corvette’. A high price tag purchases a ship full of bells and whistles, from electronic countermeasures (ECM) to smart minelaying technology and advanced remote hacking tools. The Velvetbelly is not a suitable vessel for just any crew; it demands a well trained crew of 14 or so individuals able to operate a capital ship as well as the advanced sub systems.

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The corvette lacks any out-and-out offensive capability but serves as a suitable support vessel for all manner of operations; civilian, military and outlaw like. The high tech sensor suite means it can act as a remote survey craft or, if a group’s intent is more mercenary, a ‘loot sniffer’ searching for valuable cargoes from afar. In combat the ship can dazzle and baffle foes targeting and tactical systems, restrict movement with mine laying and aid allies in targeting.

F-40

The F40 is a stripped down version of the Pinyin sold to the private market; the design lacks the advanced weaponry or FTL capability of a strike fighter but is a sturdy and affordable option for individuals and groups. A number of aftermarket upgrades and variants have made the ship popular beyond its original appeal.

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The A-Variant (nicknamed the ‘Stinger’ due to its original operators, the Sand Scorpions) features souped up engines and high rate of fire pulse cannons for lightning raids against under protected convoys and traders.

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The F40/B is designed for scouting and recon; mercenaries and pirates typically have one squadron ship outfitted as a B-Variant and use it as a scout and ‘loot sniffer’. The B is even quicker than the A but features thinner armour and no offensive weaponry; guns have been swapped for a variety of lures, micro mines and other devices which can be used to evade or damage pursuers. When operating alone and on low power the B-Variant is small enough to escape notice as it scans and tracks larger ships before reporting back to a main force.

The D-Variant is the so-called ‘stealth’ version; a low sensor-profile is achieved by swapping effective armour for scan-baffling reflective panels and energy shielding. The ship is able to trick most civilian and the cheaper grade of military passive sensors into not ‘seeing’ it. Groups of F40/Ds can either track prey or lie in wait; they only become visible when firing weapons or using engines at full throttle. The simple stealth measures of the variant remove armour and make the ship vulnerable in a straight up dogfight; many D pilots flee when confronted with even lesser foes.

The F40/G (nicknamed ‘Punchdagger’) is one of the rarer variants; it is designed for combat in extremely close quarters. It is the only human ships armed with Wun’Tux ‘Shredder’ cannons; these are usually salvaged from crashed or disabled Twinfang fighters and installed with great care in place of the F40’s pulse cannons. The weapons are almost useless at medium and long ranges; the filament fletchette ammunition is too widely dispersed to be a threat. In close quarters, however, the streams of fire are extremely capable against fighters, light freighters and small capital ships. Punchdagger pilots are though of as daredevils, risk-takers and adrenaline junkies for willing to take on such a dangerous role. Risks are weighed against rewards; the Punchdagger is one of the only non-military ships effective against military fighters and warships – at close range, at least.

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VVG Libatrix

The Variable-Vector Gunship Libatrix is a capable fighting ship in close quarters, deep space and choppy atmospheric flight – the angled, adjustable thrust modules striped in the stand-out teal are at the heart of the vessel’s effectiveness. They take a co-pilot just to keep in check; this crew member usually controls the underslung beta-wave pulse cannons, too, laying suppression fire against a range of targets.

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The Libatrix is the smallest Fukuro ship available on the open market and the only vessel of such size to mount beta-wave pulse cannons.