Agency Tales: Part One
The X-88 (codename Stormsparrow) is an cutting edge starfighter developed by the Royal Navy and the Sciencia Sinistral; it serves as a test-bed for new technologies for the latter and tactics for the former.
The fighter lacks FTL capability and requires a larger ship to dock on, in or attach to for long distance travel; the power and space which could have been dedicated to a FTL drive have been well used elsewhere. A highly advanced power core works in tandem with a visually striking set of wings to cycle and distribute energy to systems quickly. These wings also generate a charge which acts like ablative armour around the vessel; an extra layer of protection when shields fall. Rarely has a nimble ship been so tough or a pretty one so rugged.
The Stormsparrow project requires a close working relationship between the often eccentric workers of the Sinistral and the more pragmatic military minds of the Navy. Although this has led to some friction within the team, the excellent results and constant tweaks and improvements have driven cooperation on. The limited field tests against live targets (e.g. Wun’Tux Twinfang groups) have been highly encouraging.
The ISS Stolen March is a well-known mercenary corvette serving throughout the Outer Rim. The ship specialises in ‘flak’; short-to-medium range fire designed to destroy enemy fightercraft and warheads though she is more well known for her thin, tall profile and her colour scheme.
Half of the ship’s armament takes the form of standard pulse cannons mounted on turrets. The most potent threat to enemy ships and missiles comes from the two rapid-fire point defence autocannons mounted port and starboard. These fire a mixture of tungsten and ceramic slugs at high rate and accuracy; human gunners are assisted by a turret-mounted computer core. These guns in particular are remarkably effective damage dealers to their preferred targets; only heavily armoured fighter-scale ships (e.g. the Gnobo Gunskiff) have much hope of soaking up damage once their shields fall.
The ship is popular with corporate clients who want to buy an extra level of protection for important convoys. Her captain is pragmatic to her core; she ignores the threats and intimidation from local pirate groups to leave these juicy convoys without protection.
The MRM-17 (nicknamed ‘Rocket Dog’) is a armoured missile artillery walker operated primarily by the United States military. It was used successfully during the Third Age by the USEF in support of strikes by marines and other special forces. Aside from the American Expeditionary forces, the design saw action and much revision during the battles for Alecto II. More Rocket Dogs were destroyed in their transport ships from orbit than lost in actual conflict; testament to the walker’s capability.
The legs were the first part of the design; any hover technology was discounted as too unstable for proper artillery work and tracks were deemed outdated and limited in scope. Four armoured limbs were the first aspects planners pencilled in. They would provide a steady base for a heavy weapons system, protection against a fair deal of damage and maximum mobility to armour ratio. They would also go on to help the MRM-17 earn its nickname.
The ‘rocket’ part of the name is a misnomer; it is designed to fire a variety of mid-range missiles against a variety of targets. Dependent on the loadout and mission profile the walker can be a threat to targets in a low orbit or the immediate battlefield. Unlike the similar Wun’Tux design (codename: Atoll), the Rocket Dog is not a threat to starships in high planetary orbit. The ‘Dog proved itself capable against the Wun’Tux ‘Atoll’, however, when equipped with anti-armour missiles and assisted by appropriate spotter teams and craft. During the conflict on Alecto II 2.5 Atolls were destroyed for every ‘Dog lost.
The ‘Dog is not designed to fight at short ranges; it is very vulnerable if left unprotected in these situations and several have been lost to ambushes and sneak attacks.
The FAC-4 (‘Fast Action Corvette’) is an Illayko capital ship. Hundreds were built for the defense against Wun’Tux aggression and most were destroyed in the conflict; the surviving vessels are effective weapons in the hands of Illayko bounty hunters and privateers.
Like the P-22 Warspite, the FAC-4 is designed primarily as an attack ship. Its weapons excel at finding weak spots in the enemy flank and its speed and maneuverability are meant to help this happen. This quality became the ship’s Achilles heel when the IDF were forced to fight a defensive war against the Wun’Tux; the ship was simply not suited to the stubborn and grinding defensive war forced upon it by the reptilian invaders.
Following the fall of Ehoi the surviving ships followed the huge civilian convoy in retreat. Surviving Illayko blamed the military for their defeat and subsequent suffering; several ship captains refused to stand for such ill treatment and made off to the Gnobo border to find work as pirate hunters, mercenaries and privateers.
The FAC-4 rediscovered success in this role; unchained from the ill suited defensive role which made it so frail. The comparatively old corvettes needed only brief retro-refits until they were more than a match for the variety of thieves, bandits and highwaymen of the lawless border territories between Gnobo, Oroso and Human colonies. Ex-Military Illayko make formidable pirates or pirate hunters; they often combine FAC-4s with a lance of P-22 Warspites with deadly consequences.
The P-7a ‘Percival’ was a Second Age era fightercraft commissioned by the Royal Navy. It was designed as a jack-of-all-trades fighter-bomber hybrid but after testing and first deployments it was found to lack the requisite agility to serve the ‘fighter’ part of its role and instead served as a light bomber until usurped by the Albacore.
The ship only saw military service in some minor border conflicts; it was disliked by pilots due to its sluggish performance against fast moving targets but loved by mechanics due to its basic, modular construction which proved easy to maintain and repair. The ship gradually fell out of favour through the Third Age and was replaced by the much more capable Albacore Strike Fighter.
Many ‘Percies’ were sold on to private armies, scrapyards and other individuals. It has become a firm favourite for planetary militias due to its ability to carry warheads and ease of maintenance. The former quality makes it a affordable counter to pirate capital ships though it is vulnerable to flak fire and escort fighters. It is predominantly dependent on warheads for offensive capability and the quality load out can make the ship more or less dangerous; the Black Moon Union uses a number of the ships armed with modern ship-to-ship missiles with great effect, for instance.
The 61-T ‘Ingjald’ is a strike fighter created by a subsidiary of Bofors; a small, private arms manufacturer based out of Ravensmere. The advent of the Fourth Age enabled small enough FTL drives and heralded the coming of the strike-class of fightercraft; at first they were extremely expensive to develop and build and out of reach of all but the largest organisations. The Bofors design team studied the specs of the British, European and American ships before launching a ship aimed at a more niche market.
The final iteration proved fast, sturdy and potent; somewhere between the European and American models with something of its own thrown in for good luck. Offensive capability is provided by four missile hardpoints and supplemented by a high rate-of-fire pulse cannon under the cockpit. The ship’s electronic and countermeasure suites are cutting edge, allowing enhanced tracking of targets and decision support throughout combat. It can be flown by one expert pilot but most operators add a co-pilot to take care of the weapons and FTL drive.
Each ship is individually made and they are commensurately expensive; even for a strike fighter. The only military force to use the ship is the Scandinavian special forces; the Aesir. They operate semi-independently of the European Union Navy structure and have a well earned, fearsome reputation. The ship is also used by a number of private individuals as a personal transport and warship. The Ingjald’s impressive mixture of weaponry and jamming ability make it a real threat to the older ships used by pirates and bandits throughout the Rim.
The most famous Ingjald is nicknamed ‘The Indigo Viper’ and used by a member of the mysterious Agency. Miss Indigo uses the ship on necessary forays into the Outer Rim; the co-pilot seat has been converted into a snug holding cell for missions when she needs to take someone alive. Fugitives throughout the lawless region speak of the ship – and its pilot – in hushed tones.
The success of the Gurdergen species as traders is predicated on a number of factors; the design of their ships is certainly a significant contributor. Unlike its smaller cousin, the Medium Transport has both internal and external storage. The latter comes in the form of container racks able to pick up, carry and drop off significant weights and loads.
As with other Gurdergen vessels, the Medium Transport is unarmed, slow and vulnerable to attack. Ship captains generally keep to safe, well patrolled trade routes on which they do not need to rent an escort. Savvy captains are aware that the efficient external cargo racks make their ships even more tempting pirate targets; would-be raiders do not even need to board the ship to steal cargo thus can do so quickly with no risk to boarding parties.
The Gurdergen are often contracted to provide ad hoc logistical support to the USEF; when military ships working in deep cover in alien territory need resupply it is often safer and less conspicuous to use a Gurdergen ship than a military freighter. The Medium Transport is large enough to transport fuel, ammunition and spare parts through these ships are sought after by pirates eager to get their hands on military grade equipment.
The V29 is a ship of the new Asian Coalition Navy, though there are several stolen or pirated models in private hands. They are one of the smaller Corvette-class vessels; they are able to mix capital-ship grade armaments with agility unmatched by similar ships of a similar tonnage.
Four forward-facing warhead launchers give the ship its bite; V29 captains thrive on hit and run attacks on larger, slower ships to which they can do significant damage whilst evading return fire.
Even still, the ship is vulnerable to fightercraft and is dependent on ammunition supplies; without supplies the ship is much less of a threat. Pairs and triplets of V29s have been deployed against unescorted Wun’Tux capital ships to great effect; only the presence of Twinfangs balance the odds in the lizard’s favour.
The V29’s ability to punch above its weight means it is a popular ship for pirates and other criminals and rebels of the Outer Rim. Large-yield warheads are often enough of a threat to make unescorted merchant captains give up without a fight. The quality of warhead equipped by pirate V29 captains is intensely variable, however; some are more improvised missiles than military-grade hardware. The combination of agility and warhead capacity makes it an excellent choice against small-to-medium Wun’Tux warships – it is nimble enough to evade their heavy weapons and has the correct weaponry to break through durillium armour plate. The ship is wasted in a defensive role, however, and easily negated if it is made to guard stationary targets. The majority of Asian Coalition admirals prefer the Ankur’s versatility in comparison.
There are several popular and illegal modifications to the ship when used by pirate forces, ranging from a troop carrier to a close-quarters bruiser. Performance of these modified ships varies dramatically.