[MOD] **Classic Dreadnoughts** now in service!

From out of the darkest sectors of the known galaxy,
Amidst the oldest legends of space battlefields long forgotten,
Slumbering in a prolonged rest as the many star-faring species think themselves secure . . .

Records holding an ominous secret are accidentally found by researchers.
What is this potentially galaxy-changing information?

A practical key to unlocking naval architechture on a scale previously assumed to be impossible.
Not as fragile, unreliable lab experiments – but instead as vibrant, sturdy, battle-ready constructs.

This lethal knowledge is quickly used as the dark compass to guide the way towards power everlasting.
Revolutionary wisdom now takes shape in the form of might never before seen within a warship’s hull . . .

The first star-nation to mobilize that might & strike the hardest will claim the known galaxy as reward,
because leading the charge against your homeworld are the Classic Dreadnoughts!


[size=100]- - - META-STORY OF THE “CLASSIC DREADNOUGHTS” MOD - - -[/size]

[size=150]I )[/size] [size=115]>> IN THE BEGINNING[/size]

Long ago in September 2009, when GSB was just three weeks old, I introduced the very first dreadnought hull of any kind to the Gratuitous Modding community.

Other DN hulls of mine followed within the next two months, covering the “Core Four” races of GSB: Federation, Rebel, Empire and Alliance. Those four ships (now amusingly outdated) are therefore the earliest version of this mod, as what you are reading at this very moment extends in a direct progression back to those very early days of the game. That is the genesis of the Classic Dreadnoughts mod – today’s content is a massive technical upgrade of the original ships, but the defiant spirit of creativity that animated them two years ago is the same force that made me bring this mod of mine back into the spotlight. :slight_smile:

I refer to these dreadnoughts as “Classic” not only because of their pioneering status and extreme longevity, but also because they served as proof & inspiration to other would-be modders that, when designed with care, superships were indeed possible within GSB.

Back then, modder access to the official Hull Editor was still far in the future, so hull textfiles needed to be created entirely by hand-coding. This was a painfully slow and aggravating process; I avoided it whenever possible. The same went for the creation of complex new sprites. Frustrated by this, I decided to keep existing cruiser sprites as the graphics for my dreadnoughts. This was also long before the 256-pixel display limit was lifted for sprites in-game, so there was no real incentive for me to create an appropriately-sized graphic for each dreadnought. I simply upscaled the base cruiser graphics slightly, and stopped there.

I had big obligations competing for my time outside of gaming, and they increased as time passed. Indeed, time stops for no man; days became weeks, and weeks became months. September 2009 eventually became September 2010. The proud interstellar war machines I’d authored slowly slipped out of the public’s awareness, morphing from current reality into memory. They still existed, of course, but the tastes of the player community somehow lost sight of them.

Finally they seemed to vanish entirely, except in the thoughts of two players:
myself, and the esteemed darkstar076.


[size=150]II )[/size] [size=115]>> A CHANGE OF COURSE[/size]

Darkstar was entranced by the potential of my otherwise-forgotten Classic Dreadnoughts. As his now-prominent Uni-T mod was then just entering public release, he was also speculating upon what the Viral node of Uni-T would do with such a vessel, and what such a vessel would do to any unsuspecting player who had grown a bit too bold. He liked the possibilities. :slight_smile: He helped to renew my willingness to visit those sadly-overlooked warships by creating a sample set of custom graphics unique to the dreadnoughts. After reviewing them, I quickly agreed to get the mod back into further development.

Alongside plenty of playtesting and analysis, numerous graphical tweaks ensued. Many assumptions needed to be re-examined, as much had occurred in GSB during the long period when the CDN hulls were dormant. By then, the game had definitely changed and moved on, but those ships hadn’t – this needed to be addressed.

My warships are also meant to replace cruisers in quantity as the main strength of a fleet – these ships are NOT rare “command and control” units with only minor upgrades over cruiser level. You don’t have to deploy them that way, but they’re definitely ready for the job. Just be prepared for the cost, as buying CDNs in quantity feels something like using a bulldozer to fill up an abandoned well by packing it full of $100 bills. :stuck_out_tongue:

Each of these superships can carry at least double the firepower of that race’s cruiser which it is inspired by. The Federation Lion is an evolution of the Buffalo cruiser. The Rebel Ragnarok is an evolution of the Valhalla cruiser. The Empire’s mighty Senator is clearly based on the Legion, and the Alliance’s Anaconda owes much to the Shark, Python and even the Swordfish.

Included with Classic Dreadnoughts version 1.00 are two advanced modules designed for their exclusive use:

  • A strong new power generator:

  • A massive new engine:

Please note that these modules come with certain requirements & limitations, not all of which are not immediately obvious. If you can’t resist temptation, go ahead and try to shove them inside a standard cruiser hull but don’t say I didn’t warn you first.


[size=150]III )[/size] [size=115]>> BALANCE AND DEPLOYMENT[/size]

These ships, while very powerful, are fully intended to fight against the official ships included with a purchase of GSB. Everything in their design is crafted with the intention of making such matches commonplace. The purchase price of these dreadnoughts has been playtested with special attention, too. I would rather have the CDNs be extra-costly to avoid abuse, instead of their powerful abilities being priced too cheaply and therefore becoming another boring spam fleet.

You will perhaps be surprised that the sweet treats in this mod are significantly less cheaply-priced or as convenient to use as roughly similar items are in other players’ mods. Serious compromises often have to be made when deciding how many special items to install and planning what you’re going to do with them.

Classic Dreadnoughts are likewise meant to carry any variety of existing weapons & defenses that ship with the game itself. These ships have so much more internal volume than GSB’s core cruisers that there’s enough module slots and weapon hardpoints for any possible sane mission, and even a few insane missions as well. You want five shields on your “damage magnet” dreadnought? Easy; go for it. You want a speed-60 “rush” dreadnought, just for fun? Be my guest.

Despite having a wide range of capabilities, CDNs are not expressly designed to be matched against enemy ships armed with any particular set of modded weapons for official GSB races or for fighting against entirely new tech used by 100%-new, modder-created races. I’m not saying that my CDNs can’t do it; just that they’re not specifically balanced with that deployment in mind, so I offer you no warranty against possible sub-optimal – or super-optimal – performance. They’re mostly meant to be added to the fleets of the main races of GSB, as well as used in missions where one of those races is set against another of the four.

If you want to try Classic Dreadnoughts against Uni-T, please go right ahead.

If you want to try smashing my CDNs with the Borg, or using them versus Legios or His Voice or whomever else to practice against, do it.

I would appreciate it if people kindly do not use my ships as mere props to be smashed by certain excessively overpowered mod content of their own creation, and then displayed as such in those modders’ forum threads for said mods. I didn’t create the CDNs to be nothing more than a means for lazy or uncreative modders to post, " hey, my XYZ mod can crush this! therefore, it must mean that my mod is great! :stuck_out_tongue: "

But please don’t groan that my CDNs are “overpowered” or “underpowered” if you used them against a modder-created race, though. That’s not covered by the warranty. You can’t even get a refund for that on Sullgobah. :wink:

You are welcome to bend and twist these ships’ intended roles to the very limits of sportsmanship, good taste and even dear old common sense – and beyond. I may as well say that, because I cannot prevent it. :stuck_out_tongue: I certainly can’t stop you from game-legal but boringly predictable armor-tanking, missile/cruiser-laser/plasma spamming, etc. I think that players generally know when they’re going against the wishes (either implied or openly stated) of a mod’s creator – that’s life.


[size=150]IV )[/size] [size=115]>> OTHER THOUGHTS[/size]

If you are a veteran player from GSB’s competitive powerlevelling community, or know even just a little bit about modding some basic items in specific ways, then you definitely don’t need my ships in order to break the game! :wink: The Classic Dreadnought hulls and their special shipboard equipment are meant to give you some advantages that create new tactical options. I would not have done so if I didn’t want you to make use of them.

Just make certain that you’re willing to run the risks (both financial as well as military) of putting all of your metaphoric eggs into just one basket. A dreadnought is one hell of a nice basket, though…

But the exact way in which you make use of those advantages isn’t just a technical issue – it’s a fascinating question of character. I leave that part to each of you; the players. It should be interesting indeed to see what everyone’s deployment style and equipment loadouts say about them as people; their priorities, their biases, their mental blind-spots. Consider this mod to be a game-based sociological experiment, then. I’ll be taking notes. :smiley:

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[size=150]V )[/size] [size=130]Personal Note:[/size]
This thought is addressed to everyone who’s possibly interested in my mod content.
If you should desire to use any of my Classic Dreadnought hulls ( -OR- any of the other content I created for them ) in future mod content that you are authoring —

1.) PLEASE ASK ME FOR PERMISSION before you use any of my mod content. No exceptions.
2.) If I give you permission, I should be given full credit (and prominently shown) within your mod’s internal “README.txt” file.
3.) Full credit must also be prominently shown in your forum thread concerning your mod.
4.) If I disapprove of how you are using my mod content, I will definitely tell you to stop.

Thank you for your consideration, everyone.
We have a good modding community; let’s keep it that way. :slight_smile:

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••
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[size=150]VI )[/size] [size=115]>> DOWNLOADING THE MOD[/size]

[size=200]CLASSIC DREADNOUGHTS, version 1.00 for Windows –
download link:[/size]

[size=125]New Primary Link[/size] ----->> http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?1r61dsm1123i2sd

MIRROR LINK via Positech – thank you, Cliffski! :slight_smile:

[size=200]Classic Dreadnoughts, version 1.00 for Mac OS X –
download link:[/size]

[size=125]New Primary Link[/size] ----->> http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?ho843x6ylsqgl3p


[size=150]VII )[/size] [size=115]>> TECH SUPPORT FOR THE MOD[/size]

If you play [size=115]GSB through Steam[/size], and you are having trouble installing this mod, please check HERE.

— OR —

If you play [size=135]GSB directly (i.e, WITHOUT Steam)[/size], and you have trouble installing this mod,
then ***please check here instead***.


[size=150]VIII )[/size] [size=115]>> UPDATES[/size]

Update – 2011/11/29 : Additional content is being developed for the next revision of this mod. Yes, really. :stuck_out_tongue: It’s very delayed, but quality definitely takes time. “Real life” has been using me as a punching-bag [-sigh-]. Check back here for updates – thanks for your patience.

Update – 2012/01/16 : This mod has now racked up one thousand downloads! At present, that’s one percent of everybody who has bought a copy of this great game. Thank you :smiley:

Update – 2012/01/20 : Due to Megaupload being knocked offline,
please use the Mediafire links shown above.

Update – 2012/12/29 : This mod has now racked up two thousand downloads! Thanks, everyone!

Update – 2014/06/10 : It’s been almost exactly three years since this optimistic venture went public.

Between then and now, I’ve been badly affected by unavoidable real-life obstacles that delayed this mod’s progress. Delays also resulted from my changes to the goals, scope, and resulting feature-set that this mod was destined to progress towards. In its current state, it is definitely not “done”. What you see here is less than 10% of an entire plan where dreadnoughts occupy only one part.

In 2011, Classic Dreadnoughts was intended as a tiny “scout force” in advance of a far more grand and fulfilling mod. That much larger mod of my creation is still actively being developed! Despite my silence, it is not abandonware.

Several very serious and unexpected mod limitations built into vanilla GSB appear to have finally been bypassed, courtesy of the help I’ve been generously offered by some especially skilled, persistent & friendly people. Instead of spending my time wrestling with those numerous and time-draining crises, additional significant progress within my mod might now be possible again.

The above thought also needs to be weighed against the time pressure of my official, ever-increasing (and somewhat dissenting) design role with what is now certain to be [size=130]GSB 2[/size]! :wink:

[size=130]IF[/size] [size=110]the WIP future revisions of my mod actually function 100% as I planned them
to function, I will share the whole of it the player community.[/size]

Classic Dreadnoughts – and the much larger body of my work that it is just one part of – are absolutely the most-extensively-planned, most-extended-development modded content in the entire long history of GSB. Don’t be surprised when they finally re-appear, better than ever; that content will grip your imagination!


[size=150]Federation Lion-class Dreadnought[/size]

For several centuries, Federation military scientists and naval architects believed that warships larger than cruiser-size were utterly unfeasible. This was due to an interlocking series of limitations that, when seen together, became an impenetrable fence that no ship designer could push through, jump over or dig under. These problems chiefly concerned the following issues:

  • energy production
  • engine thrust
  • internal energy distribution
  • metallurgy
  • hull construction techniques
  • financial cost

The latter point was seen as especially depressing by the leadership of the Federation’s navy, the so-called Treasury Command (functionally identical to the Federation Commerce Department). One or two of the issues occasionally came close to being solved, but incorporating the solution into existing ship tech became so frightfully expensive as to be the same as a physical impossibility. Feds feel the same way about wasting money as you might feel about recklessly taking years off of your life expectancy.

In the recent past, a Federation deep space astro-research team was sent to explore in the vicinity of the distant paired nebulas known as the Great and Lesser Violet Abysses. To reach this fascinating but highly dangerous region of space takes substantial efforts. To do so without running afoul of different warring fleets belonging to almost every single one of the Great Powers requires even more effort. If one was starting from Federation space and wishing to avoid the many active combat zones west of there, the paired Violet Abysses were reachable only by hyperjumping towards galactic west by southwest to the distant and forebodingly-named World of Tears. From there, the explorers made a series of shorter hyperjumps as they skirted around the southern fringes of Rebel space and finally neared the bottom edges of Great Violet.

The researchers’ plan was to tiptoe north from there, cautiously beginning by staying in the Shallows – a relatively milder nebular “gap” between the two Violets. Just three weeks after arriving, the Federation science crew was greatly surprised to find an isolated moon in the Shallows. No evidence of a companion world or a parent sun existed. The lonely moon had travelled as an interstellar orphan after being cast out of its long-lost solar system of origin. It was captured by The Violets’ gravity millions of years later, and finally wound up being caught in a circular eddy current in the bottom third of the Shallows.

Artifacts were discovered on the moon’s airless surface, which were transported in haste back to the science ship before it plotted a reverse course clear of the Shallows and then made a full-power boost towards home. These ancient treasures were substances created by an unknown but presumably long-dead civilization. Their existence proved that solutions existed to the problems in designing and assembling ships larger than cruiser-size. Once these artifacts were understood and it was possible to duplicate them in massively greater quantities, the key had turned in the lock. The scientists had done their job. Now it was time for the military to do theirs.

With the newly-gained knowledge brought back from the phantom moon, metallurgy had now made a single great leap forward; forward enough to allow the forging of keels, hull girders, spars and plates to bear the mass of a far larger class of warship. These shockingly-radical new types of metals would prove to be extremely useful indeed.

It was now likewise possible to include the super-high-thrust engines whose designs had long been waiting in vain for a ship that could carry their high mass onboard. Without these, conventional engines would have been needed in quantities far too numerous to possibly fit within the hull, let alone even move such a hull at any useful speed.

In turn, thermal containment tech and particle-channel control tech needed for a power generator energetic enough to feed such engines could finally be included. Such a vessel would otherwise have been hopelessly unable to fulfill its intended role if it could not continuously provide enough power to operate all shipboard systems at top potential.

Finally, ship construction saw itself revolutionized via the combinations of the new techs above. Hull assembly now required much lighter structural members which could also be of thinner cross-sectional area, thus taking up much less room and mass. No longer would a starship have to consist mainly of its skeleton’s own weight before even adding any of the necessary shipboard systems. Construction supplies could also be stockpiled and organized much more efficiently, allowing shipyards to greatly reduce the amount of time needed to fully assemble a ship.

All of the above achievements did not come with a small price-tag.

Federation Treasury Command wanted a new class of warship for its navy whose combat performance would be approximately double that of the the Buffalo class; the largest cruisers then existing. The design goal behind the Lion class was to achieve a ship balanced closely between defense and offense, with enough special abilities to make it a true multi-mission vessel. The lack of a strong specialty in any one area did prevent it from matching certain enemy ship classes on their own terms, but this was believed to be a sacrifice worth making.

Just this once, quality was not to be sacrificed upon the altar of cost. The designers were ordered to include every possible improvement which had been waiting around for a ship to include it for the first time. This led to the new dreadnought-sized hull being the testing grounds for a perhaps excessive number of untried gadgets. The finest minds in the Federation’s most time-honored giga-corporations were responsible for the new supership’s vital systems.
Examples include:

Apple/Google/Nintendo : primary shipwide data system
British Telecom/Verizon/Comcast : secondary shipwide data system
Sony/Microsoft/Amazon : battle management system
Square Enix/Bofors/Starbucks: target detection and precision aim-bot system
Fukushima Daiichi : main power production
Tsunami : shipwide power-wave transmission system
Ferrari/Nike/Lockheed Martin : engine system
Walmart/Boeing/Ford : damage control & repair
Canal 7/Radio Belgrano/TV Publica : crew entertainment system
McDonalds : crew cafeteria & consumables
Electronic Arts : primary waste recycling
Ubisoft : secondary waste recycling

Some of the systems provided by these companies did not work well with those of other companies. For example, those built by Sony/Microsoft/Amazon were especially fault-prone when forced to interface with Apple/Google/Nintendo items. However, these weaknesses were glossed-over by intense political pressure to finish dreadnought Adam Smith, the lead ship of the class, in record time.

Nowhere were these pressures more unfortunate than with the ship’s power systems…

The dreadnought’s design included a requirement for two power systems instead of one, with each one built by a different company. The controversial Fukushima Daiichi class-VII reactor was chosen to provide for the ship’s baseline energy needs. Parallel to that but almost completely separate was the experimental shipwide power-wave system being pushed so hard by Tsunami for use aboard the dreadnoughts. This system was a de-centralized network of small power generator nodes spread all through the ship. They added to the power produced by the Fukushima system, but due to sloppy and incompatible protocols they were unable to work well together.

That incompatibility required increasingly numerous changes to the ship’s plans, as complex and bulky cryogenic coolers & frequency converters had to be placed between each company’s power system anyplace that they met. In turn, these power-system changes meant that more and more of the ship’s internal volume had to be devoted to this potentially awesome but presently difficult setup, which meant that the entire hull plan had to be revised to make the ship larger. This actually reduced the usable volume available for other shipboard items, added great expense to the cost of the dreadnoughts, and led to confiscation of bonuses and new promotions for the idiots and political hacks who approved these changes in such haste. Federation Treasury Command tried to put the best face it could on this fiasco, by claiming that the ship’s unexpectedly huge size was always part of its military plan to intimidate the enemies of the Federation and the ideological foes of capitalism.

In the final phase of the Cassabian Wars, a secretly-contracted Rebel force of mercenaries in the Order’s service joined the Order’s fleets pressing against the Federation’s northwest frontier. After skirting the southern limits of the Stygian Abyss, these hired killers struck hard at the unsuspecting world of Argoshka. While its occupation carried a frightful cost in human life, political repression and destruction of cultural landmarks, it embodied an even greater evil:

as the new lease-holders of the property, the Rebel-equipped mercenaries were now two weeks behind on their rent payment to Federation Treasury Command.

When news of that horror, that slap-in-the-face to all free-market patriots, became known in the heavily-censored wartime news-net, the Federation public roared for justice. Only one response was possible to such a black deed. And with so much of the Federation’s regular naval strength already committed in other sectors, it was also a perfect chance to show what the new Lion-class warships could really do in a fight. All six of the Lions then in service were sent with escorts to retake Argoshka from the plunder fleet that was still busy ransacking the system.

Aside from a heavy screen of frigates, this radical new Federation fleet was wholly unencumbered by cruisers of any existing type – it was to be an all-dreadnought show, and the resulting fireworks display would make history. Dreadnought Adam Smith served as the command ship at the formation’s rear, flanked by Invisible Hand and Wealth of Nations. In the forward echelon, Jean-Baptiste Say was flanked by Thomas Malthus and John Stuart Mill. Named after persons and concepts sacred to economics since the Federation’s long-forgotten antiquity, the ships now bearing these quasi-religious names were sent forth to retake a conquered world full of the hopeless, the wounded, and millions of eligible taxpayers:

During the battle, each Lion scored many direct hits with its fusion-based Inventory Control Beams and shield-piercing Price Reduction Lasers. Performance of their multi-warhead Contract Renegotiation Missiles was also excellent. The far greater amount of internal volume aboard the dreadnoughts meant that more copies of certain battle-critical systems could now be used than ever before. This battle proved that the unprecedented use of as many as four fast-recharging Customer Conflict Resolution Shields was actually possible. The longevity of the Lions’ shielding was such that the more numerous but over-gunned, under-protected Rebel cruisers were ripped apart with ease. As for the Rebel frigates, the detonating hulls of the fragile Lokis and Asgards presented a realistic imitation of popcorn being made:

There was only one bad thing about the incredible victory that the Federation scored when it recaptured Argoshka from the unprepared enemy: the known galaxy now knew that the Federation had just added something very special to its navy. The secret was out – and in the coming race to catch up, everyone else was determined NOT to be in last place.


[size=150]Rebel Ragnarok-class Dreadnought/Super-Heavy Cruiser[/size]

Of all the Great Powers – the major star-nations in the known galaxy – the Rebels were perhaps the most poorly-prepared to engage in a naval arms race. Now that Rebel Naval Intelligence had data about the fearsome Fed dreadnoughts, the fact that they now had to participate filled them with unease. While exact data is understandably hard to come by, we know something about the economic effect of the Rebels’ long, bitter, open-ended war against the Empire (and smaller conflicts against other Great Powers). Rebel naval architecture, while advanced in several areas, is greatly limited by their inability to finance and staff large numbers of high-capacity factories and shipyards.

Most Rebel warships are hastily-built and hardware-hacked for a very good reason, since they come from a huge number of widely-scattered salvage yards and recycling facilities. With only a handful of major construction centers available to them, the Rebels cannot quickly add high-quality ships to their fleet. These cruel limitations placed a low ceiling upon the Rebels’ ability to answer the challenge of the Federation’s new Lion-class dreadnought.

Despite - or perhaps because of - their lack of money and materials, the Rebels are famous - or perhaps infamous - for both the creativity they put into their warships as well as the low cost of those same ships. While sleek and imposing on the outside, the ships definitely are not renowned for their internal fineness and aesthetics, though. While boasting effective armor and even higher speeds than most of their historic enemies, on the inside they resemble a disorganized jumble of spare parts. Each one is full of hacks, mods, alterations, undocumented changes, partially unrepaired old damage, and salvaged battlefield equipment waiting to be delivered to the recycling bases.

Every gram of unnecessary weight has been removed in order to achieve high combat performance. The Rebels’ disturbing habit of removing “redundant” and “needlessly complex” items to improve the ship’s thrust-to-weight ratio - even deletion of protective antiproton shielding from their main power generators - is just one part of their obsession with hardware hacks. Convenience, durability, and sometimes even basic safety is often a casualty of this process.

As planning advanced further on what would eventually be named the “Ragnarok” ship class (named, from Norse mythology, after the final battle between good and evil), Rebel shipwrights and naval architects argued loudly over what to include and what to leave out. The resulting design plans began to take on a strong resemblance to what could be described as the greatest “hot rod” race-car in the known galaxy. Parts suppliers all across Rebel space were questioned about their ability to provide equipment with certain very unusual specifications. To save time, the Revolutionary Warfare Council ordered the Vohm & Bloss Company’s shipyard to start assembling the basic skeleton of the prototype dreadnought immediately, even before most of the individual shipboard systems were ready – the ship’s amazingly modular design would make later insertion of items simple. As that equipment began to arrive, the possibilities of the ship excited great comment among Rebel admirals.

The two most exciting and radical shipboard systems concerned power and engines. Together, these played the largest part in making the Ragnarok into such an unusual warship.

From manufacturer Dyunhai arrived the prototype of their Model 1883 “Krakatoa” power plant. The resemblance between this energy production & transmission system and a supernova explosion was pretty close, as it was the first to make use of the stellar “CNO” fusion process. It would be more accurate to say it was the first to try making use of that process, as diverting the reaction before it could try fusing iron isotopes and cause a catastrophic collapse plus explosion turned out to be a difficult process. This was in spite of four different redesigns of the power plant’s junctions with the acceleron-damper conduits. Rebel engineers were so captivated at the thought of continuous high energy production that they were too willing to overlook the fact that the Krakatoa power plant was basically a controlled bomb. More radical than power plants used in the Federation Lion-class DN, it was also much more troublesome and dangerous.

Alas, this “controlled bomb” design was only partly-controlled, especially once external factors intervened. These qualities are directly linked to the tragic explosions of Rebel dreadnoughts Robin Hood and Nestor Makhno after taking only moderate damage during the Third Battle of Kappalaxx II. Their destruction was caused by sudden fusion runaway and the containment fields’ resulting failure to hold back the microsupernova within them. The unexplained disappearance of the dreadnought Swedish Ninja during hyperspace retreat from Qualkat is also believed to have had a similar cause. That is only a subset of the larger unsolved mystery of how that could have happened to an apparently undamaged Ragnarok.

From manufacturer Zolls-Zoyce arrived the first examples of the new F-1 “Merlin” engine. These drive systems were so powerful that initial testing was suddenly interrupted – the first two Fenrir light cruisers which tested it both had to receive immediate overhaul to repair significant frame warping, hull fractures and armor damage caused by its incredible thrust. The Merlin looked perfect for the job of moving even a ship as large as a dreadnought at speeds best described as “extreme,” if not “unbelievable”. The Merlin’s design lived up to that potential, and more.

However, these superb drive systems came at a high cost. The Merlin’s great bulk (its actual thrust units themselves, plus extensive cooling and support equipment) meant that it would require a very large amount of space for its installation - rumored to be as great as [size=115]45%[/size] of total hull volume! This was a penalty too high for any other star-faring nation to willingly accept, which left the Ragnarok as the fastest large warship in modern times. No other ship with comparable battle performance for its size could fly at even two-thirds of its speed. Combined with a relatively small hull (a huge one for the Rebels, but barely larger than the Federation’s existing Buffalo cruiser), this resulted in a small “passive stealth” bonus that sometimes made it hard for enemy weapons to acquire a clean targeting lock on the ship.

The Rebels already demonstrated major difficulties in successfully fabricating very large hull frameworks with a high degree of build quality. When combined with the inclusion of such space-wasteful versions of basic starship equipment, it meant that many useful items could not be installed aboard the Ragnarok class. This reduction in available room meant that, despite taking every possible design short-cut and making many compromises with safety as well as sanity, the resulting ship was not quite a true dreadnought. Close, yes, but not quite.

While it could carry nearly as many weapons as the Federation’s Lion and could outrun it with ease, the Ragnarok was still too small and fragile to completely fulfill the dreadnought role in a fleet. However, after serious setbacks on the Imperial front as well as the recent catastrophe that was the hasty Balgourgne Offensive against the Alliance, Rebel cruiser losses had reached record highs and fleet strength was strained almost to the breaking point. Whether or not a better dreadnought was possible, the navy badly needed the Ragnaroks immediately and was in no position to waste time tweaking the design any further.

Despite their own propaganda directed at the other Great Powers, the Rebels appear to have [size=80](NOTE: still awaiting confirmation from intelligence sources)[/size] internally classified their new dreadnought class as a “super-heavy cruiser”. The extreme speed that the Ragnaroks were capable of was a tactical as well as strategic asset that often turned out to be the ship’s greatest advantage, as many a fleeing foe discovered to their surprise and sorrow. When considered together with the small passive stealth bonus from the Ragnarok’s small hull form, this warship class does indeed seem to merit the designation as a super-heavy cruiser.

The same decisions that allowed such superb engines and such scary power systems aboard also stressed the hull to such an extent that overall stability was greatly impacted. This, in turn, not only made received combat damage more extensive but also caused above-average amounts of wear, increasing the maintenance & repair requirements. The ships eventually became cheap to buy but remained expensive to operate.

Whether the Rebels surprised the galaxy by building the weakest dreadnought ever seen or the best cruiser in history is still a matter for lively debate.


[size=150]Kemp’s Charge – Riding To Hell Or Glory[/size]

As mentioned previously, the shockingly high maximum speeds that Rebel Ragnarok dreadnoughts could attain is the salient trait that earned the class its lasting place in the hypernet’s history files. The best example of that military potential is Admiral Leonidas Kemp’s decisive victory at the Battle of Yavanna, fought during the Eleventh Swarm/Rebel War.

Upon receiving word from his scouts of a Swarm invasion fleet hyperjumping up the line from Paradise World, Admiral Kemp boldly detached his dreadnoughts from the rest of his powerful but slower fleet. That force was based at Arcadama: the massively-defended fortress world and fleet base at the southernmost end of the Himalaya Wall, which served as the command center of the central defenses against northern and eastern threats. He planned to personally lead the dreadnoughts as a fast assault force from his own Ragnarok flagship, Emperor’s Worst Nightmare. Kemp’s deputy commander would bring the rest of the battle fleet to Yavanna at its best possible speed to reinforce whatever dreadnoughts survived to still hold the system, if any.

Gresh Harlingen, the flagship’s captain, was concerned about Kemp’s plans. Rumors had begun to circulate though certain high-ranking circles of the navy about the “death-trap” nature of the controversial F-1 Merlin engine systems while in hyperjump mode, but the facts were even more alarming than the fiction. While the new Ragnarok-class ships were much, MUCH faster at FTL strategic speeds than any other Rebel cruisers (including all other Great Powers’ ships as well!), the already-thin safety margins of their power and engine systems even at the best of times would be pressed beyond reasonable limits.

After protesting to the admiral, Captain Harlingen advised him that for a Ragnarok, standard hyper-transit time from Arcadama to Yavanna would take 197 minutes. This was a massive – and massively secret! – improvement over the twenty-six days that the second-most-powerful hyperdrives in Rebel service would require. Nothing but a Ragnarok could do that, and the captain expected that the admiral would be satisfied with this.

Kemp told him they would do it in no more than one-quarter of that time - if not less.

His loyal captain was stunned almost speechless by the command, but he hastened to obey. Any delay could spell the failure of the entire enterprise – the Swarm fleet’s forward units were estimated to be arriving at Yavanna in no more than seven hours; probably less.

The admiral was risking total engine failure and resulting defeat plus disgrace, but he and his elite superships made the most astounding (and secret) hyperjump in Rebel history - known forever as Kemp’s Charge - rolling dice against Death even before the battle started.

Admiral Kemp’s dreadnoughts spent an incredible 41 minutes above the terrifying speed of 100 megalight, reaching a peak hyperon output of 114.7 megalight and holding it for the last sixty seconds of the jump - two records that still stand to this day. The hyperon output of the fleet’s engines attained such a high degree of energy density that this was the only time outside of laboratory conditions that the previously-unconfirmed “Indigo” hyperon particle was ever detected during actual hyperspace travel, settling several academic debates about that theoretical creature of numbers. The density of the stress felt by ship’s personnel was nearly as great. X-rays from from secondary particle-collision leakage were forcing their way into each ship past even all five stages of the compression baffles! Each captain quickly ordered his ship’s engineering crew relieved from their watch stations and cycled through sickbay while fresh crew stood watch, repeating the process every ten minutes to avoid dosing any of them with a dangerous level of radiation poisoning any sooner than necessary.

With increasing unease, the ship’s energy crew monitored the power efficiency meters of the fusion generators. What they saw scared them:

In order to supply enough energy to keep the hyperdrive engines running at such insane speed, the stellar fusion reaction within each power plant was aging tens of thousands of times faster than normal. The presence of nickel-56 was soon detected in each generator’s plasma stream, and its quantity was growing. If allowed to decay into cobalt-56, that isotope would then rapidly decay into iron-56, which would cause the barely-leashed hellflame of the plasma streams to very quickly and accurately imitate a supernova explosion. One didn’t even have to steal a worried glance at the slowly shrinking numbers describing the generators’ containment fields to know what the chances of surviving that event were…

Machinery fared much worse than men did during Kemp’s Charge. The Zolls-Zoyce “Merlins” were amazingly tough but not invincible, as one by one they began to fail under the punishing load. No ship avoided meltdown of less than five engine cores, plus secondary fires and circuit overloads that threatened to knock out control hardware for shipwide main power. Under the merciless lash of energies best measured in exavolts, even the mighty quark-forged cores of the Merlins were experiencing in mere seconds the same stress levels that months of continuous cruising at max velocity would cause.

By the last ten minutes of the jump, two dreadnoughts (Die, Empire, Die and Emperor’s Worst Nightmare) were each down to only a single functioning Merlin to do the job of all the other crippled hyperdrives on each ship.

At four minutes before jump closure, disaster struck.

Die, Empire, Die suffered a flex rupture in the hull near Engineering Control which severed the “B”-level coolant loop for the main power generators. As the panicked crew struggled to avoid the deadly tornado and flying debris as they escaped the quickly-depressurizing room, ship tremors caused by the hull breach caused even more damage. The wild vibrations overwhelmed check valves and caused fluid hammers in the piping which totally wrecked the “A”-level reactor coolant loop as well. Only the low-pressure “C”-level coolant loop remained in service. It was little more than a temporary system, normally used during maintenance to loops “A” and “B”. It would quickly fail under the demands of the raging subatomic forest-fire that was a dreadnought power complex running at 21% above maximum safe output…

The speeding dreadnought’s entire future was left hanging by a mere thread, and each passing second was a blade that sawed at it.

Loss of the ship was avoided only through heroic efforts of the chief engineer and two reactor techs who remained behind while the others fled, working in frantic haste despite vacuum and near-total darkness with only emergency breathing masks and flashlights from the toolbelts that they wore. They had less than one minute in which to manually lock-out the two now-useless coolant loops and bring the intact “D”-level high-capacity reserve coolant loop online before the entire power plant complex could detonate. They also sealed the hull breach with a temporary meteor patch before collapsing into unconsciousness. After their safe recovery, all three were awarded the Star of the Revolution, First Class, for their bravery in saving the ship while still managing to - just barely - maintain speed along with their brother warships as the formation screamed across the heavens.

Despite the claws of doom caressing his dreadnoughts, Kemp’s Charge was a success. The titanic gamble paid off - none of his dreadnoughts exploded and no one had died. Despite severe hyperdrive damage they successfully reached Yavanna just hours before the Swarm did; unlike Kemp’s direct dash, the Swarm fleet was forced to take the long way, past the eastern edges of the Tribe’s main territory. It is possible they were trying to surprise the Rebels by approaching from this direction, but on that fateful day their luck deserted them. The defending Rebel force even had time to effect a bit of temporary repairs to stabilize their ruined FTL systems and badly-strained power cores before the battle. Kemp’s perfectly-timed attack destroyed so many ships in the arriving enemy’s surprised, frigate-only fleet that Kemp not only stopped the Swarm advance but also changed the entire war in the Rebels’ favor.

Captured Swarm officers revealed that they assumed the Rebel battle force was part of the garrison at Yarvil IV, which in interstellar terms was practically around the corner. None of them would ever have believed that these ships had instead sprinted across entire light-centuries to block the Swarm’s progress into what their own pre-combat intel had sworn was a defenseless sector. When the rest of Kemp’s battle fleet completed their own much slower - and safer - hyperjump from Arcadama, the strength of the newly-reunited fleet was such that the Swarm never advanced beyond Yavanna for the rest of the war.

The brave Rebel admiral was unsure whether he was most surprised at winning the battle so handily, seeing the arrival of the first repair cruisers and deep-space rescue tugs coming to his aid after the fight, or not being angrily relieved of his command and put under arrest for hazarding a large portion of the Rebels’ total dreadnought strength. It was probably a three-way tie.

Well after the battle, the heat-blistered main hyperburner casing from the #7 engine on Kemp’s own dreadnought (the flagship’s only engine that avoided meltdown) was put on permanent display in the lobby of Zolls-Zoyce headquarters, with the famous admiral’s autograph clearly seen at the top-left corner of the casing. No finer advertisement for Zolls-Zoyce’s engines can possibly be imagined.

Kemp then renamed his flagship dreadnought as Lucky Seven, adding to the legend of both the man and the ship that, together, would eventually lead the Rebels’ elite “Jokers Wild” fleet and go forward to utterly rampage across the Empire during the third phase of the Cassabian Wars:

The victorious admiral’s good fortune, though generous, finally failed him just before the end of the Cassabian Wars. While cut-off from both reinforcements and resupply, and grimly handicapped by increasing amounts of unrepaired battle damage, the ships and crews under Kemp’s command met their end with gallantry – as did their admiral himself. Their brave final stand against overwhelming odds successfully halted an Imperial advance towards the Rebels’ heartworlds which, if unchecked, may not only have ended the war on Imperial terms but perhaps even led to the final defeat and massacre of Rebel society.

To express the thanks of a grateful nation, a colossal monument dedicated to Admiral Kemp’s memory was built at the Rebel capitol. Though the great man is no longer with us, his inspirational spirit will never fade. So say we all!


[size=150]Imperial Senator-class Dreadnought[/size]

-Combat Intelligence Update
-Security Clearance: Yellow-4
-clearance verified

-distribution list - ranks:
-captains and admirals (active duty only)
-naval operations HQ staff

-begin intel report

The Empire.

There are several major empires and many minor ones across this galaxy, but only this one is so unique as to be simply spoken of as THE Empire.

Much has been said about it, even more has been speculated, and very little of any of the above reflect the hidden reality of that old power’s true history and nature. The same can be said for Imperial Counter-Intelligence; those tireless guardians of the Empire’s secret truths. Indeed, it is precisely because of ICI’s efficiency that this naval intel report was so difficult to fill with the desired level of detail. What details that have been smuggled out of the Empire tell a very interesting - and shocking - story.

Among the major star-nations collectively regarded as the Great Powers, the Empire is a paradox. Ancient, vast, ruthless, arrogant, technologically advanced; all of these are true. However, its military might somehow ranks far lower than those other qualities. While being very impressive to look at, warships of the Imperial Battle Armada are handicapped by huge, clumsy hulls that are difficult to shield tightly enough to make them enemy-frigate-proof – let alone enemy-fighter-proof.

Worse, their design is not only under-gunned all too often, but what weapons bays that do exist are often placed awkwardly, which tends to prevent different guns from being able to scan, rotate and engage the same enemy at the same time. This makes it hard for Imperial warships to avoid losing during a battle where the enemy manages to close in to knife-fighting range, due to the lack of a strong centralized forward battery of guns.

This is a legacy of the ancient days of the Frontier Era when what we now know as the Empire’s disc-shaped warships began as orbital battle stations watching conquered planets for any sign of rebellion. These ominous units (first constructed during the reign of Emperor Vsevolod III, “the Reformer”) were required to face potential challenges from any direction, and were built with weapons bays spaced more-or-less equally around the huge circular hulls. There was also a strong element of psychological warfare here: projecting the image of an Empire that could confidently face threats from any and all directions. This arrangement, long enshrined in military tradition, eventually became a flaw when confronting powerful opponents among the Great Powers.

At short engagement ranges, therefore, the Empire’s fighting ships can neither out-gun nor out-maneuver their opponents. Imperial Battle Armada forces must make use of superior numbers to compensate for their individual inferiority, but - surprise! - their great physical bulk makes it very difficult to safely pile more friendly ships into the same area. There are very few positive synergies that an Imperial fighting formation can draw upon to strengthen it in battle.

How could such a bizarre, seemingly inept navy have possibly made its Empire what it is today – let alone manage to successfully defend it against threats from other Great Powers??? Flying directly out of the center of this mystery is the Senator-class dreadnought.

Putting full professionalism aside for a moment, the Senator is, simply, a truly frightening warship.

While the Federation and Rebel dreadnoughts are 30 to 33% larger than other cruisers, the Empire’s Senator-class ships are about 50% larger. This massive boost in the hull’s internal volume takes the form of staggering increases in both shipboard equipment and firepower - offensive and defensive. It can carry triple the weaponry of the Empire’s lightly-armed Centurion cruiser, and nearly double that ship’s module slots. This is not intended to be a good ship, or even a great one. It is intended to be a perfect executioner - leaving no enemy survivors to escape, and not even a whisper of what titanic foe had killed them.

The Senator design includes a de-centralized secondary power system that is not as strong as that used on the Fed Lion or the Rebel Ragnarok, but is vastly safer and more reliable than either. While it cannot overtake an undamaged Ragnarok that is thrusting away at full speed, the Senator does include super-high-efficiency engines that do make it the second-fastest dreadnought in this part of the galaxy. That Ragnarok captain had better pray that the Senator chasing him gets bored and goes after a Lion instead, as the Senator’s deck plan includes a huge amount of structural reinforcement & air-tight subdivisions that translates into high hull integrity. It takes a great deal of firepower to “mission-kill” one of these dreadnoughts, let alone actually destroy one.

Other innovative features insure the Senators’ place in the history of naval architecture. Consider its defenses. This dreadnought’s armor features a “sandwich” of carbon femtotubes and allotropic diamond, covered by cells containing a Bose-Einstein fluid that serves as an amazingly effective form of reactive armor. This means that even with a hull so huge that while enemy frigates and even some enemy cruisers could easily fit inside of its wide shield bubble, the Senator’s final line of defense is surprisingly strong.

And speaking of shields, those of the Senator-class dreadnought are without equal. The ship’s hull form is a radical departure from known Imperial designs. It boasts triple concentric rings – a shape not seen on any other Imperial warship to date. Each ring includes multiple redundant quark multiplier tubes along its length; far more than are needed to assure mere redundancy against combat damage. The Empire has discovered how to use this incredibly large number of tubes in a way that makes the entire hull become an active amplifier for any deflector-shield generators carried onboard. Combat tests show an 86% efficiency boost to shield output. This tremendous performance means that Senators will easily outlast most other warships in battle.

Senator and Vae Victis, the first and second ships of the class, both made a close approach to a white dwarf star and intentionally passed directly through a solar flare erupting from its surface – true, total shield strength was significantly reduced by the eruption, but without any damage actually penetrating their shields. However, one wonders if the demonstration would have gone very differently if those superships had tried to dare the wrath of the Purple Death: the twin pulsars blazing away at the heart of the Great Violet Abyss!

There are unconfirmed reports that during a duel with an Order “Preist”-class cruiser at the end of the Great Aldebaran Crusade, Imperial dreadnought Rex Inferniae actually grabbed the enemy with its tractor beams and deliberately rammed it, directly impacting the ship’s center of mass: its main power-reactor room. If the hearsay is to be believed, the luckless Order ship then split apart like a piñata, and its power generators as well as both engines detonated right in the dreadnought’s face. Incredibly, Rex Inferniae’s shields still held:

Imperial dreadnoughts are therefore dangerous and unpredictable even when operating alone, and captains must keep their distance from them in order to avoid falling victim to various other spectacular surprises that those superships may be capable of.

But these massive bringers of doom can be beaten, though at great cost. . .

While on maneuvers with the 5th Training Group, dreadnought Carthagos Delenda Est was actually refereed as “killed” during official wargames, where it was set against an array of eight Imperial cruisers. This mock victory was achieved only by way of a huge and unrealistic missile-spam attack which overwhelmed its guidance scramblers after the ship’s four shield-support frigates had been disabled. It took six guided-weapons cruisers to deploy a missile barrage dense enough to do that, and only after the other three “enemy” cruisers in the formation were “killed” by the dreadnought’s massive lasers in simulated combat. While this purposely-biased wargame was hardly meant to prove the Senator-class ships were invincible, it did show that the required firepower density needed to seriously hurt one was (happily for the Empire) not easy for a smaller enemy formation to create, let alone sustain. This vindicates the basic toughness of the Senator design.

The Empire has wasted no time in deploying its dreadnoughts to active combat zones. While some fleets now appear to be using their new Senators as fleet command ships or as lone assassins, others are using them as a powerful “armored fist” advance strike force consisting only of dreadnoughts, with a bare minimum of light defense ships. This strategy has proven quite decisive in certain battles.

One such strike force in particular deserves close watching in the future. On its way towards the Caletobabs Front, a dedicated formation of Senators has recently scored an unusual number of victories against enemy forces, and with taking only minimal damage to itself. Intelligence has discovered that these dreadnoughts are operated mostly by crew from Mildor’s Stand; the Empire’s technological elite. Their commander is Vice-Admiral His Imperial Highness Volodymyr Karaschuk: an Archduke of the Imperial House [size=75](14th in line of succession for the throne)[/size], Prince of Yuccal and Count of Haeneya:

We are familiar with the Archduke’s vigorous efforts in science, politics and the navy, and we can say with certainty that his appointment to this new command is bad news for our ambitions in that region of space. We much preferred the previous holder of that fleet’s command, Vice-Admiral Radko Prostodušan, the Count of Gubljenje Vremena; his ineptitude and laziness was a great gift for us.

Unlike other kinsmen of the Emperor who used their position in the aristocracy to gain important navy commands for no reason other than social prestige, the Archduke is one of the relatively few senior leaders who has gained his admiral’s rank solely through careful study, relentless practice and battlezone cunning. And unlike other field commanders in a nation as huge and hard to administer as the Empire, his combat record clearly shows him to be a serious opponent. We are deeply concerned that the largest single group of Senators has been given to him by the Stellar Uber-Kommand:

We are watching his movements as closely as we can. The class-A shipyard at Grape Planet, just beyond Caletobabs, will remain out of our reach as long as Karaschuk’s dreadnoughts will be decisively reinforcing the existing Imperial fleet that is defending that front. Sending reinforcements to our own battleship divisions by forcing passage through the hyperdrive-negating Himalaya Wall is too risky; going safely around the Wall will take far too long before the Archduke’s fleet arrives at Caletobabs. This new development requires our current invasion plan through the Empire’s isolated southwestern sectors near the black hole “Vampire’s Kiss” to be heavily revised.

-end intel report

memory wipe number 1 of 64
. . .
memory wipes complete


-Long-Term Strategic Analysis Presentation
-Grand-Strategic level (galaxy-tier politics)
-Security Clearance: Black-10

. . .

. . .



-distribution list - ranks:
-Naval Commander-in-Chief
-Chief of Naval Operations
-Chief of Naval Construction
-Chief of Strategic Intelligence


##This analysis includes data affecting the long-term security and even
##survival of the nation. You now have permission to be very afraid.
##Do not mess things up even worse than they are already.

-begin strategic analysis presentation

The Empire did not create the Senator in response to the Rebels’ Ragnarok and the Federation’s Lion dreadnoughts.

Why not?

Because the Empire had already been building Senators in secret for nearly forty years before that.

40 years.

Then why did the Empire not mobilize an entire fleet of nothing but dreadnoughts and crush the other Great Powers decades ago???

The answer lies in a tiny data-cache that avoided destruction only by the smallest of lucky chances.

Last year, a Tribe fleet successfully managed to fight off a Uni-T attack while at Doolasine. The Tribe admiral in command smugly laughed at how the stupid, single-minded machines should have known better than to give battle to ships as durable as the Tribe’s in an area where subspace anomalies reduced deflector-shield strength by 67%. It was easy to wipe out the now lightly-shielded “glass cannons” that were the enemy; after all, what Tribe captain cared one bit about shields of his own?

When those annoying hippies salvaged whatever they could from the wreckage of the computer-controlled enemy vessels, they were surprised to find that one of the wrecked enemy cruisers was, itself, already carrying salvage of its own.

The cruiser in question had two adjacent cargo holds combined into one large “suite” for the purpose of holding the wreck of a roughly frigate-sized ship. The nature of the Uni-T equipment in that chamber indicated that the AIs commanding the cruiser had been attempting to reconstruct the entire ship and make sense of whatever surviving data was still stored aboard. It appeared that this process had only recently begun before the Tribe destroyed the Uni-T fleet of which this cruiser was a part.

When the mystery ship’s wreckage was analyzed in detail by Tribe engineers, they were able to identify part of the wreck’s log buoy. Perhaps the wrecked ship had been almost completely surprised by Uni-T forces, as the buoy had not been jettisoned & camouflaged before the ship was captured. However, the parent ship did have time to upload a data archive to the log buoy, with the intention of deploying it for later recovery by friendly forces. Forensic examiners surmised that the upload was a data-dump which covered recent events in the parent ship’s immediate past.

The reintegration, clean-up and translation of the alien data took many months, but in the end it yielded up its secrets. To the stunned amazement of the Tribe personnel who viewed the data in the log buoy, it included flight-recorder files recorded during the mystery ship’s last battle before being captured by Uni-T. However fragmentary and incomplete this data was, it also clearly, unmistakably showed this little ship in direct combat against one of the Empire’s Senator-class dreadnoughts.

The mystery ship was recovered by Uni-T at an unknown location that was someplace along the east face of the Backbone of Night – a highly hyperdrive-resistant volume of space that was on a substantial amount of galactic longitude away from the Empire. How could it have been fighting the Empire, then?

Then again, who among the Great Powers knows exactly how large Imperial space truly is?

Those flight-recorder files showed that it was not Uni-T forces that had surprised the crew of this mystery starship. It was the Empire. That same Senator was the warship which had finally crippled the little vessel, but withdrew from the battle for unknown reasons before it could finish the task of destroying it utterly. The log buoy upload ended (due to battle damage) before any further data was recorded which could indicate why the enemy dreadnought broke off and withdrew.

Calibrated timecode pulses coded into the log recordings eventually showed that this battle took place thirty-seven years ago. The Uni-T cruiser had recovered that alien derelict less than two weeks ago. Whatever the Tribe now knew about the contents of the log buoy, Uni-T had not had enough time to learn the same before the wreck “changed ownership” so suddenly.

The flight-recorder files added an even stranger mystery. While fine levels of detail were difficult to confirm due to the damage that the log buoy had taken, it was also plain that the Imperial dreadnought was not having an easy time in battle against the small mystery ship. Indeed, there was a great deal happening which strongly indicated that, despite the huge number of Senators in that one battle - 35 (!!!) - the mystery ship was just one part of an entire mystery fleet in that battle, and that fleet was brutally kicking the Empire’s shiny metal butt.

Seen here is an example of that astounding fact, courtesy of the salvaged mystery ship’s flight recorder data from its last battle. Here we see a Senator dreadnought being completely destroyed by a massive discharge from a direct-fire energy weapon of unknown type. A second dreadnought in formation with it had to use maximum emergency thrust to sideslip away from the hulk before it collided with its dead brother-ship:

As of this month, Empire propaganda claims that it currently had “at least 14” dreadnoughts in service, with more being built quickly. However, Rebel spies who had briefly infiltrated Imperial Counter-Intelligence claim that the real number is 17, and that they were being constructed at a 6% slower rate than the propaganda proudly claimed.

It seems that both numbers were wrong. Both were lies.

How could the Imperial Battle Armada participate in a battle that included more than twice the number of dreadnoughts than actually existed? And do so almost 40 years before any of them should have existed???

The first number, from propaganda claims, was obviously meant to deceive the Great Powers; the historical enemies of the Empire.

What if the second number - the one uncovered by Rebel spies - was actually intended to deceive the Empire itself???

Espionage Implications:

Who within the Empire was keeping secret the real data of the Senator-class dreadnoughts’ numerical strength?

Who within the Empire was keeping secret the real data of where these dreadnoughts were fighting, and who they were fighting?

Who within the Empire was keeping secret the real data of how badly the Imperial Battle Armada was struggling to hold back this mystery enemy – and frequently failing to do so, even with a colossal fleet of super-warships to do the job?


The problem is that the part holding all of the secrets is the part that we know almost nothing about, and it’s a lot bigger than the part of the Empire that we used to, until today, think of as the entire Empire.

Effective immediately, all of us have to throw away most of our assumptions about the Empire.

The Strategic Analysis Section believes that the part of the Empire holding all of these secrets is doing so not just for its own protection, but also to protect the rest of the Empire –

– to keep it from a state of panic if it knew the truth.

They may even be protecting the rest of the known galaxy from the same things. To save us - and [size=125]everyone[/size] else - from destruction by a shadowy threat beyond our darkest nightmares.

The logical conclusions of this data, just like the combat performance of the Senator-class itself, are truly frightening. Here is a list that describes the new facts, what they mean, and what they will likely force us - and others - to do in the future:

1) The Empire’s domination extends across an area of space that is much bigger than any of us ever guessed. Aside from the small amount that exists only in this ultra-local region of the galaxy, the exact boundaries of Imperial territory are therefore unknown. We speculate that its distant regions lie well to the north of the Stygian Abyss, and extend across galactic east and west to a large degree. The Swarm’s attack fleets mostly come from that direction, but nothing else is known about such faraway areas of space.

2) As a result of (1), the Empire is using resources of previously-unsuspected vast amounts & advanced quality to operate a secret war fleet whose abilities are significantly in excess of the ship classes that it uses to secure its borders against star-nations in known space.

3) The ships referred to in (2) are likely viewed by the Empire as clearly second-class or even third-class forces. This implies that the Empire does not generally view the Great Powers as a danger. It is humbling to realize that the Empire considers its own obsolete weaponry and underpowered junk from our grandparents’ era as sufficient to deal with our finest battleships!

The Empire carefully let us convince ourselves that they were weak. We have been successfully manipulated by true masters of deception.

4) Across these unknown frontiers far, far from known space, the Empire has encountered at least one star-nation - or more - completely unknown to the Great Powers.

5) One of these star-nations is the hostile alien force that built and operated the mystery ship that came into the Tribe’s hands – the same alien force that the Empire is heavily engaged with defending itself against, using the previously-secret resources referred to in (2).

6) The deployments referred to in (3) strongly suggest that the Empire’s chief strategic goal is not fighting against us, but stopping the hostile alien force instead. This also would mean that it regards political, economic and military clashes with the Great Powers as affairs of little importance or risk to itself. The true scope of the Empire’s resources gives them the luxury of not taking us seriously if they do not wish to, and to do so without fearing our disapproval or anger.

7) Despite their effects upon us, both the Great Aldebaran Crusade as well as the Second Gratuitous War might possibly have been little more than a temporary inconvenience to the Empire. Those same conflicts brought other Great Powers to their knees. They nearly destroyed some of those star-nations. What this implies for the regional balance of power is deeply disturbing.

8) The maximum geographic extent, homeworld location, biological composition, strategic psychology and war goals of the Empire’s mystery enemy are all – unknown.

9) What is known is that this mystery enemy is advanced enough that even the vast combat potential of the Imperial Battle Armada is able to hold it back from overwhelming the Empire, but seemingly with only the greatest of difficulty. What victories the Empire has been able to achieve have may been expensive in terms of ships and personnel lost. There is no expectation that any of the other Great Powers - including us - could have done as well as the Empire in slowing down this threat’s advance towards our region of the galaxy.

10) The translated flight-recorder data from the mystery ship’s last battle also include frustratingly-incomplete visual data and sensor readings of Imperial warships other than the Senator-class dreadnoughts – “new” hull classes of Imperial origin that have never been seen before in known space.

11) The Empire has designed and built other warships, fighters & bases and, presumably, other weapons, defenses and shipboard equipment that it uses only for fighting the alien threat. We do not know how long those units have been in production. Those ships and items have not yet been seen by the Great Powers, and their specifications & actual performance are still – unknown.

Shifts In The Balance Of Power:

A) The recent deployment of the Senators within known space & the publicity/propaganda connected to that may have been viewed by Imperial leadership as a reasonable risk to take because other Great Powers have recently unveiled their own dreadnought-class ships in the region. Unfortunately for the known galaxy, the Empire now appears to feel comfortable enough to withdraw (small?) numbers of dreadnoughts from its secret wars in order to control the balance of power in our shared galactic region.

B) The Empire may choose to transfer other, now-unknown military assets to this part of the galaxy along with the Senators. The clearer view that this gives us of the Empire’s capabilities, motivations and priorities has SEVERE implications for the continued existence of peace in this galactic region. While skirmishes and border clashes are expected and fairly constant, full-scale war is suddenly a strong possibility again. An Empire feeling confident enough to begin breaking the balance of power without suffering negative consequences to itself is truly a star-nation to be feared.

Direct Challenge To Us:

If total war does return to the known galaxy, an Empire armed with the incredible might of massed numbers of dreadnoughts (plus who knows what else they’ve been hiding!) could be strong enough to finally trap the Rebels and exterminate them. Such an action would almost surely cause the Federation, Tribe and Alliance to consider preventive warfare with the Empire, lest they become the next target.

It is doubtful that mobilization would stop there. We expect all other powers, major and minor, to eventually become involved in such a state of total war. As each of the Great Powers becomes entangled in this rising tide of warfare, each one’s various formal allies, informal peacetime friends, sympathetic armed neutral powers (both large and small) and assorted trading partners all become much more likely to get sucked into the madness.


Defeat in such a war with the Empire is horrible enough to imagine, Especially against an Empire that is far bigger, better armed, better defended than we EVER dreamed possible. The only thing worse than that would be victory

–because that means we would have just defeated the only force strong enough to stop that mystery alien threat - or threats - from advancing in our direction.

-end strategic analysis presentation


memory wipe number 1 of 1024
. . . . .
. . . .
. . .
. .
memory wipes complete

-Appointment Scheduling Update
-Max Priority


TO-- Commodore I. Erdody, Fleet Operations:

A National Strategy Meeting is being convened in order to brief the President, his advisers, and other members of the national command authority on certain data which you have just been made aware of separately.

By the authority of the Joint Chiefs of Fleets, you are hereby required to attend this meeting. It will be held in the Obsidian Palace at 1900 hours tonight. A hover-car will pick you up at the Admiralty at 1825 hours to take you there.

Bring materials with you concerning data that lists present locations, fuel status, and combat readiness for ALL fighting formations of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 12th, 16th and 17th Fleets, and time required to bring Reserve Groups ‘A’ through ‘D’ to full fighting readiness. Expect to brief the President personally on how long it will take for all of these naval assets to simultaneously be within striking range–

[size=150]–of the Imperial border[/size].

Plan on this meeting lasting for a very long time tonight.

signed and approved,
[size=115]Admiral K. Kovesshaza,
Commander-in-Chief, Combined Defense Fleet[/size]

[Message Attachments: 1 of 1]
[Additional Encryption: activated]


Istvan, my dear friend,

I’ve got A LOT to say, and very little time to say it. I don’t know how long this encryption will hold, so trash this attachment after you’ve read it ONCE and then route the formal orders into your tablet’s main memory. These orders were a convenient method for sneaking this letter to you. It’s probably the last one I can send to you for a while; hence the great length of it…

Firstly…nice ultra-secret security briefing, eh? You should have seen the reactions some Very Important Persons had to it. At least one of them pissed his pants, I swear to God. I would have been laughing at the poor schmuck, if it wasn’t a situation where the entire interstellar balance of power was just redrawn. This whole new Empire thing is terrifying. So if you’re freaked-out too, well, don’t feel bad; you have a lot of company here.

Secondly…in addition to the orders I just gave you, I’ve also just been given orders to take the entire senior class of the Star Academy and get them up to Skybase 3 NOW for duty as Temporary Ensigns aboard the new war cruisers. Over two thousand cadets, for God’s sake! This is for real – “The Big One”.

Now for some bad news that’s even worse:

A little bird who I won’t name has quietly tweeted in my ear that regardless of what data you present at tonight’s meeting, the decision has already been made. The meeting is just political camouflage to keep the opposition party and the independents quiet. Bennington is probably feeling the heat, so he wants to make the little people feel they have a voice. Or a choice; hahaha.

You still have to go through with it as if it matters; I’m sorry. But I thought you deserved to know. I owe you.

I got the actual attack orders from Old Fatass, the Secretary of Defense, just a few minutes ago. When I saw them I wanted to throw up. The politicians have really found a new way to screw the whole country. I should have resigned; told him where to stick those orders. Tip-toe up behind the goddamned Empire and kick them in the nuts? And after we struggled for a decade to get that treaty signed?!?! The President and the entire Council must be crazy. Or desperate.

Unfortunately, I know full well exactly which moron would be sitting in my chair if I quit, and there’s also that little detail about how “dereliction of duty in time of war” carries a rather substantial penalty. Hahaha.

So here I stay. At least from here, with operational power over the entire Navy, I can still do some good. And in ways that Old Fatass and the spineless wimp holding his leash don’t have to know about. This is a situation where the Navy’s “Old Boys’ Network” is actually a help instead of an obstacle. I’ll give you an example of the kind of good I’m talking about. To start with:

I made sure that your daughter got assigned aboard Novara. I tweaked its orders to keep it far behind the first attack wave.

It’s a good ship with a reliable master. Captain Horthy’s not some stupid glory-seeker; he knows that taking a shortcut through the Himalaya Wall is just a path to a funeral service, not a lovely highway to awards and honor. And Novara is part of Eisenberg’s battle formation. Good old Eisenberg; he’s loyal to me, yes, but he’s also smart! No needless suicidal idiocy there.

I assigned Eisenberg’s entire fleet to the reserve group; they’ll only move after the second attack wave goes in, and he’s also got most of the best and biggest ships along that sector of the front. Your little girl will be as safe as I could make her.

It breaks my heart to know badly our Navy is going to need good officers like your daughter. There will be plenty of room for promotions very soon, if you know what I mean. That also breaks my heart.

A smart lieutenant like your girl will go far aboard a ship like Horthy’s. At least she’ll actually be of use to the nation, once most of the well-connected simpletons and empty-headed pretty-boy officers either get killed – or bend under the pressure and find a way to get invalided out of the Service after the first month or two of fighting – or totally crack up and then get killed almost immediately. Me and the other folks I can trust tried so hard over the years to weed-out as many of the weak, useless ship commanders with powerful patrons as we could. Our only consolation is that even though there are too many still out there, if we did nothing it would be so much worse.

Sadly that also means many, many other good officers are also going to be doing far worse than merely going to a psych hospital, you know? And a lot of those deaths will be on account of those same fools I mentioned previously, who will remain sane and capable just long enough to give some very unwise orders before they’re no longer in command. Even with all of my own power and influence, I have to admit that politics and outside meddling and the “my-daddy-is-THIS-rich!” clueless arrogance is still king across so much of the Service – too much. I won’t say more because I don’t want Those People to ever mark you as a target.

God damn this corruption.

Look, my friend, you know what making a sneak attack against the Empire means. They will lose some ships at first, maybe even a lot of them if we’re lucky, but they will win in the end. Those bastards aren’t nearly as foolish as we used to think. Hey, remember when we used to laugh at them back when we were second lieutenants? Back then, they were pretty weak a lot of times. Well, it’s all different now; today, the Empire is much tougher. And they’ve got access to much more new hardware than our intelligence says they have; I just know it. Too many sudden disappearances of our patrol groups, too many disproportionate losses in larger fights against the Empire, for them to still be using only standard hardware against us any longer.

I have a secret that I already shared with both Horthy and Eisenberg, and now I’m telling you. VERY secret, though. The sector at the front that’s on the Imperial side of Eisenberg’s reserve group is just two sectors south of where the Empire has designated what they call a “Priority Sector”. Those noble bastards we’re about to sucker-punch have very special reinforcements for holding that area, should our own fleets wipe out the Imperial border squadrons…

[size=115]They have five Senator-class dreadnoughts assigned as the backup force.[/size]
Their names are Imperskiy Slava, Volshebnik Zvezdy, Zavoyevatel Ryenbor, Zmey Lazernyye and Vechno Besstrashnyy.

That’s right, Istvan – Imperial Glory, Wizard of the Stars, Conqueror of Rhiennebor, Laser Dragon, and Eternally Fearless. The very heart of the Empire’s 50th Stellar Legion.

They actually did it!!! They redeployed these monsters; five of the best ships in the whole Empire; just in case any invader from the east actually starts winning a little bit. My God, it’s almost a compliment. Almost.

Their dreadnoughts also have a large number of cruisers and escorts – 26 cruisers (5 of those also serving as carriers), and at least one hundred thirty frigates – to brush their teeth for them and read them a bed-time story, too.

So even if we surprise and wipe out the lightweight guard forces on patrol, then somehow burn the enemy border fleets behind them, our guys will still have taken enough losses in the process to make them easy prey for those five monsters. That one Imperial group could wipe out at least a third of our invasion force in the region; maybe even half.

And once those five dreadnoughts try to make contact with other reinforcements coming from much deeper within the Empire, which are almost guaranteed to include additional dreadnoughts of their own? Surprise attack or not, that’s four layers of Imperial fleets already – and our guys are still trying to merely get more than just 50 or 60 light-years past the border!

I still can’t believe that the politicians think their campaign plan of a surprise attack is going to succeed. Idiots!

Forget about our chances of strategic victory; it’s too late to change anything now, our fleets are already in motion. And the Imperial response? They don’t take kindly to dishonorable actions such as, oh, an undeclared war.

We’ll be lucky to simply live through this.

Both Horthy and Eisenberg have orders, direct from me: if they detect the SMALLEST hint that those giant hell-ships are in the area, Novara is to get out of there at once – sound the alarm by hyperjumping back to Regional HQ and letting Theater Command know. All of our other guys in the area are also supposed to withdraw until enough of our own heavy stuff can get into range to hit back. Frankly, our own dreadnoughts may not be worth much against those superships. But we’ll have to try.

God damn this war.

If we can’t break the Empire quickly, we’re finished.

And at the rate they’ll be chewing up our ships and crews, your eager young child will probably be captain of her own ship before her next birthday. Heaven help us when all of the skilled, trustworthy, pre-war captains, commanders and lieutenant commanders are dead…we’ll have a battle fleet full of ships led by children. War’s not supposed to be this way. Our children, Istvan, and they’ll have to fight against those goddamned dreadnoughts! Those Senators are chariots from Hell.

Old friend, I swear to you that I truly did all I could to make sure your little girl will get back safe. I’m trying not to think about all of the others who won’t.
Delete this attachment. NOW.



[size=150]Alliance Anaconda-class dreadnought[/size]

Among the Great Powers, the Spiderii Alliance had the greatest future potential combined with the worst present capabilities. The Spiderii races’ adaptable insectoid biology, their willingness to undertake millenia-long terraforming projects to house their expanding population, and their command of strange biotech-inspired ships which were part-grown, part-built from mostly organic materials, should have made them into an unstoppable galactic steam-roller.

Unfortunately, incomplete understanding of nano-scale genetic prosthesis and unrelated cyborg osmosis difficulties had caused their engineering development to abruptly stall in spite of their best efforts to proceed forward. If the Spiderii races ran face-first into a new problem with their biotech, that did not mean they now had a problem that blocked a single path of research and engineering. It meant that they now had a potentially serious obstacle to the development of their entire society.

The timing of this stagnation was especially unfortunate, as it coincided with an unexpected invasion by a known power (the Swarm) plus a surprise attack by an unknown power (tentatively speculated to be the Yoma). This massive one-two punch did serious physical and economic damage to the Alliance, weakening it for an extended period during an era of notable technological advancement by the other Great Powers. Not only did Alliance naval construction lag behind other star-nations, but vital weapons and defense development did, too.

This left the Alliance at both a major strategic as well as tactical disadvantage which other races were all too willing to exploit. Despite a relatively warm diplomatic rapport between them, the Empire stepped-up its willingness to subtly push the borders of their zone in the Stygian Abyss a little closer towards Alliance space. Meanwhile, the Federation resumed openly nibbling away at Allied resource worlds from the south. Even the Order started making trouble again for the Alliance, despite otherwise being privately occupied with several delicate problems of its own.

Then the Alliance’s luck really went bad…

While the Great Aldebaran Crusade was - luckily! - mostly fought in regions far from the Alliance’s core, the Cassabian Wars started close enough to their space that they could not escape significant involvement. That conflict first began as the Seventeenth Impero-Federation War. The ill-advised (some would say “crazy”) Federation ambush of the Empire included numerous fleet actions which occurred near Cassabia - then uninvolved - including violation of cease-fire agreement as well as illegal trespass across borders of Great Powers other than the Empire. What was originally somewhat like a “private duel” between Empire and Federation soon expanded to encompass uninvolved star-nations hoping to sit this dance out and not get shot at.

Unprepared for the new heights of savagery and destruction in these conflicts, the chronically weak Alliance was soon caught in an unparalleled struggle to avoid total military defeat. Colony nests, mining outposts, small shipyards – all evacuated and abandoned to their cruel fates. Only provincial capitols were defended, but with mighty fleets numbering hundreds of warships. Even among the Alliance’s enemies, the battles of those black days are still enough to make many a hardened, cynical veteran shiver with both awe and revulsion as he or she tries to communicate those feelings to others who were never in the line of battle…

At those scattered, regional Alliance capitols, the enemy was slowed, yes; bloodied and battered, yes. But in spite of those immense clashes of fleets that smashed or melted ships by the dozens, world after world eventually fell to the might of the invaders. In the wake of the few Pyrrhic victories for the Alliance, even the most valiant units of their battlefleet were still forced to retreat in order to concentrate enough ships to save the vital - and increasingly vulnerable - homeworlds.

Then things went from “worse” to “terrible”.

For the first time, the Grand Hive itself came under direct attack. “Asmodeus,” the enemy’s new teratogenic plague weapon, was expressly designed to mutate and poison biotech-based life forms in the egg or fetal stage of development. That massive terror assault upon the Grand Hive threw the Allied leadership into a blind panic. Asmodeus was a horrible, demonic weapon to use against a biotech-based group of species. It was vital for the Alliance to conceal the true extent of the damage from its enemies. If they knew how effective this bioweapon really was, its repeated use would completely destroy the Alliance.

However, if the invaders could be fooled into believing that their expensive new toy was no more effective than conventional space-to-surface weapons, there was a chance that the enemy might withdraw it from active deployment. Withdrawal of Asmodeus would also give the Alliance some slight period of time in which to somehow create a miracle: an effective military counter-attack to roll back the threat forces’ advance far enough to put the Grand Hive out of striking range.

That terrible environment of rising uncertainty, imminent military defeat and possible xenocide was where the Alliance’s first dreadnought was created.

The Queen of the Grand Hive - Her Armored Majesty, Shaliavashkili XXXVII - ordered that a new class of supership be designed and built with ultimate haste. All other naval construction and research efforts were stopped in order to give this project maximum attention. All possible civilian resources not needed to provide basic food allowance were also thrown into this struggle.

Her Armored Majesty also ordered that the Allied battlefleet commit to fighting a near-hopeless, rear-guard defense to buy time. No longer would the bugs appear to be deciding whether to fight OR to die – now they would be doing BOTH. The chief strategists of the Alliance calculated that, if all reserves and training units were added to what was left of the main fleet, it could hold back the enemy invasion forces for no more than four more months. After that, the enemy would have consolidated their logistics train enough to build a new line of strategic supply bases so close to the Allied homeworlds that those planets would come under constant overwhelming attack from all directions, crushing the final defense fleets within days and leaving the Grand Hive helpless.

There was no other sanctuary to retreat to:

  1. The two secondary areas of Allied colonization were barely holding themselves above the tide of bloodshed; there was no security there for any additional refugee exodus.

  2. With the hyperspace-negating Backbone of Night directly to the Allied core area’s eastern edge, their fleets could not evacuate in that direction.

  3. Northeast of the Alliance were the Yoma: a geographically small but technologically advanced star-nation with a thirst for expansion. Though only (at least at that time) a “minor power”, the very capable Yoma and their growing navy was a more-than-adequate deterrent to Allied thoughts about possible retreat in that direction.

  4. Federation expansion efforts from the southeast had closed that possible door, too. The Alliance could try to force it open, but to what end? Directly on the other side of that metaphoric door was the growing interstellar tumor of the Great Blight!

  5. And the majority of the Stygian Abyss was a sterile desert of space, with far too few worlds to choose from and none of the Spiderii-inhabitable ones large enough to accept a sudden refugee exodus numbering in the low hundreds of billions of individuals.

With all other naval construction and research at a standstill, the Alliance’s remaining naval might was brought together for a single purpose: to buy enough time for a new class of warship to alter the balance of the war.

The strange concept behind the new vessel was that of planning for victory, as well as planning for defeat before defeat itself became unavoidable…

Every remaining laboratory left standing in the Alliance rushed into genetic simulations of the viability of new types of mineral- and metal-laced organic chitin; stronger than any ever grown before, and damn the price to produce it. Not just incredibly resistant to weapons fire and kinetic energy, but also capable of surviving the strain of carrying immense cargoes with mass never before attempted by any form of Alliance warship. After the accelerated equivalent of millions of man-hours of study, a winner was found. Prukk Chitin Works, the Alliance’s largest supplier of combat-grade chitin, rushed the new design into production. Soon, a hundred lesser suppliers joined them.

The same gigantic, desperate mental struggle was also being waged to finding a way to grow a miniature version of the city-sized egg hatcheries, incubators and genetic programming nodes that made up so much of the Grand Hive’s bulk. Using the tattered remains of its once-vast interstellar hypernet, every last planning hive in the Alliance was concentrated upon this single puzzle. This was more than a military goal, or a royal directive straight from the queen – it was a race against total extinction.

The Allied battlefleet’s master planning hive decided that the new dreadnaughts would have a hullform resembling that of an up-scaled Shark-class cruiser. The hulls of four different ships were combined to build each dreadnought. Both of the forward sponsons were replaced with an entire Python-class cruiser, mated to the central Shark core. Lastly, the hull of a Swordfish-class frigate was added between the ex-Python hulls – used for housing the command decks, primary navigation sensors and the library-computer. The resulting dreadnought was 62% larger than the Shark. This colossal increase provided enough internal volume for each dreadnought to carry in its central core something that the Alliance had never before been able to put within a warship:

A Mobile Combat Hive.

In case the homeworlds were defeated and destroyed, the vast warehouses of genetic wealth that made the multiple Spiderii races what they were would be preserved. Each Mobile Combat Hive could also serve as a fully-functional breeding facility, just like the Grand Hive presently did. They were even programmed to create more Mobile Combat Hives, if enough time and raw organic materials could be found!

Other versions of a movable space hive existed long before that time, but every one of them was a fragile and gigantic creation that took years to grow to maturity, and needed a special class of immense civilian freighters to slowly carry each one through space. This tiny, radical, quick-to-produce version of that hive was the real reason that the dreadnoughts were being created, and they going to have to fight. The new ships were designated as the Anaconda class, and they were fully intended to be the Alliance’s ultimate combat vessel. It was not enough to merely slither away and survive in concealment. The enemy had to be repulsed. The invaders had to be destroyed utterly; suffocated and crushed!

The Anacondas were extremely well-armed and defended. Each carried slightly more than double the module slots of the Shark cruiser they were based upon, and nearly four times the number of weapons bays – a 380% improvement in guns. Her Armored Majesty intended that her counter-attack force consist of the very best dreadnoughts ever used by one of the Great Powers, and the Alliance may have succeeded. Allied scientists were already familiar with the Federation Lion and Rebel Ragnarok classes, and intended their Anaconda to be well superior to both of them. Indeed, this new warship even had a slight edge in certain situations above the battle performance of the Empire’s mysterious & mighty Senator dreadnoughts.

It should be mentioned that all of these excellent breakthroughs in naval architecture and engineering were accomplished while nearly two-thirds of the Alliance had been conquered, abandoned or simply reduced to “scorched earth”. One shudders nervously at the thought of even greater improvements which might have been possible had the Alliance not been on the losing end of a complete death-struggle at the time. Military analysts from other star-nations are grateful that the Alliance lacked the time to make the Anaconda-class superships even more formidable than they already were.

While carrying the same firepower as four Sharks was very important to the Alliance, of even greater value was the ship’s ability to survive damage. The newly-gene-engineered chitin gave the Anacondas massive internal strength. Several variations of Prukk Chitin Works’ new CC Armor (Cemented Chitin) were adapted for use as a defense belt, and with stunning success. If the Alliance managed to survive, CC Armor would occupy a prominent role in the effort to retake conquered territory. It might even play a future role in helping the Allied navy’s luck in forcing its way through the hyperspace energy sink that was the Backbone of Night.

As for additional defenses, Anaconda hull integrity was of such a high degree of quality that these dreadnoughts began to approach Tribe levels of combat longevity. Of course, having so many useful abilities as these also meant that the hull was of such incredibly huge size that it resembled a floating space-borne city more than it resembled a warship. To help make up for this unavoidable fact, engine thrust output was tweaked upwards by 20% to move that vast quasi-living bulk with somewhat more efficiency. When combined with the ship’s four main engine rooms and the latest model of dreadnought propulsion, these enormous superships are not always as slow in combat as one might assume.

When finally unleashed against the overconfident invaders, the Anaconda-class dreadnoughts stunned and devastated them. Records are incomplete at best (the few invading warships to escape all had damage to their sensor recordings), but it seems that the “Battle of the Grand Hive” saw at least 20 (!) Anacondas in the fight, with a tight screen of expendable escort frigates and light cruisers to defend them against fighters and seeking weapons.

The confusion of the invading fleet’s admirals soon turned to worry. Fear was not far behind the worry. Five enemy cruisers against one Anaconda is generally an even fight. But whatever damage that dreadnought could inflict before being crippled or destroyed would surely be exploited by the next Anaconda, now thrusting directly towards those wounded cruisers and only seconds away from optimum gun range.

Insanely high amounts of concentrated enemy fire were able to destroy a few Anacondas.

However, amidst the boiling chaos of the battle zone this could only be done successfully by packed formations of enemy cruisers, all occupying a very small area of space. That desperate tactic simply gave the many other Allied dreadnoughts control of the rest of the battle zone, allowing the tightly-concentrated enemy formations to be blocked in front, then flanked, and finally wiped out. Five Anacondas against one enemy cruiser is a massacre.

As for the invaders that were too crippled to flee into hyperspace, the mop-up operations were quick and merciless. The fate of any remaining enemy warship suspected to be carrying an Asmodeus bioweapon is unknown, but is assumed to have been extremely unpleasant.

After the invasion had its back broken at the Battle of the Grand Hive, the Alliance quickly advanced from its homeworlds. With more newly-built Anacondas joining the battlefleet every few weeks, Allied forces retained the initiative as they reclaimed and reinforced the middle and outer reaches of their territory. The madness of the Cassabian Wars would continue for several more years, but not in Alliance space.

It is widely believed that the surprising halt in the Allied advance towards the territory of its aggressors is not because they could not do so, but because they chose not to do so. The likelihood of an intense Allied “crash” research program to quickly produce new kinds of weapons, defenses, shipboard equipment and even entirely new hull designs is a constant worry among politicians and admirals across known space. The under-used potential in the Alliance’s technology base has given its enemies a free ride with easy victories for a long time, but that pleasant state is about to end.

The thought of not only (for example) Swordfish frigates and Stingray cruisers, but also Anaconda dreadnoughts armed with these hypothetical new combat systems is bad enough. Allied technology is (let us be blunt) weird enough that predicting the form and function of such devices in advance is very difficult. There are many possible directions in which Alliance military tech can evolve from here. None of them are comforting to their enemies.

An even worse nightmare is the Alliance battlefleet using such radical new combat abilities to march forward in order to crush the enemies that tried to poison them into extinction. Considering recent history, can you blame them if they did? The Alliance’s neighbors have used them as a door-mat to wipe their muddy shoes upon for centuries.

But who among other races can truly know what these incredibly alien beings intend to do next?

For now, the bugs are silent.

Learning from their mistakes.

Watching. [size=125]And waiting.[/size]


I gotta admit - i have been bustin at the seams to spill the beans on this mod.
Glad i was a part of it :slight_smile:

And while i appriciate the credit - all i did was make you the Dreadnought graphics.
Everything else, Story, Balancing, is all your own work.

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I’m glad that you are a part of it, too, my friend. Your visual contributions are some damn fine stuff. I think that the Senator is some of your most demanding artwork to date – that titanic engine of war is a masterpiece.

And yes, keeping the secret of this mod for soooooo long has been very taxing for me as well. It’s long past time to shake up the boring old status quo around here. :slight_smile:

1 Like

This is fantastic, do you want me to mirror the files on the positech server?

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Thank you, Cliff; It’s really kind of you to compliment my mod. :slight_smile: I’ve been chipping away at it like a jeweler and I’m thrilled that it’s finally gone public to the GSB community. One doesn’t have to be a die-hard modder to enjoy this mod!

Among my biggest priorities was making the Classic Dreadnoughts mesh as seamlessly as possible with the “Core 4” races in the standard game. I’m very pleased to receive this sort of reaction from other players, let alone from the designer of this entire game cosmos. :smiley:

Please do go ahead and mirror the files on Positech’s server - I’m definitely OK with that.

1 Like

Well I dont know what to make of all this… Humm, if this is going to be official in any way, then I guess I should comment on the balance issues.

So immediate glance suggest that with some effort, the fed hull can be stupidly overpowered. as in, totally terrible. here’s an example

That’s A LOT of stuff for 3415 credits. 2 CL, 6 plasma, 3 fusion, 2 beam, scrambler, and emp. Easily kept at 0.21 speed, has extra shield, and whatever disadvantage it has against fighter is made up for with 4201.75 health.

Or take the Alliance one; it’s just as terrible

Your average, run of the mill, MWM spam with 19 weapon slots filled, 4514 HP, and costing 3635 credits.

Basically, big cost cut with big hull boost is a terrible idea, because that means I can spam guns/cheap modules for HP, and skip defense entirely. Armor Boost > 0.2 also tends to be bad. If the goal is to make them expensive giants, don’t give them cost cuts. Give them more of other things (except armor).

Hi and welcome, 123stw. The multiple posts prior to yours make everything clear.

It is not. I’m really curious what brought you to that assumption; care to share?

Sure, I enjoy feedback. But you make it sound like I committed some repellent social faux pas.

I really have to ask: is your misunderstanding of Cliff’s words also serving as some passive-aggressive way of saying that you’re simply dying to comment upon balance issues here? Please just do so, then. Prior to today I thought you and I were on friendly terms, but now reading your latest I’m somewhat unsure because of your scornful not-very-friendly tone.

I assure you that I welcome candor, but it really helps if your candor is not phrased in such in-your-face snotty tones. I’ve seen you openly post that way about other players’ mods and that style is not constructive. Frankly, it’s rude; I thought you were better than that.

Look, in order to head off any other snark from you, I’ll be a mensch and openly state that this mod is presently neither complete nor conclusive. It’s brand-new – of course it’s not perfect, 123stw. FWIW, the purely factual content of your objections is mostly valid and I intend to make use of them in a later revision. :slight_smile:

Yes, there’s still a great deal more work to accomplish here. Since the planned scope of this mod’s creative content completely dwarfs this modest effort that I’ve just released, I’m honestly pleased to receive feedback from players who have played it.

But there’s a certain clear undercurrent of worry in your thought that Cliff was going to make my Classic Dreadnoughts official. Why is that? Does your unease extend beyond the mere imbalances of the moment? Why does my mod actually bother you? [-puzzled-] Please help me understand, because right now I have difficulty detecting whether your unease & your dismissive attitude is my problem or whether it’s your own problem. More decorum on your part would help a lot, 123stw. I expect some sincere disagreement (which is fine), but never rudeness. :frowning:

I ask that because I’ve obviously made a nontrivial (indeed, strenuous) creative effort that encompasses much more than mere juggling of digits and fretting about edge cases, and I find it informative that the sole thing you choose to immediately post about is balance. If such thoughts of yours – and I know you’re very talented at this way of analysis; your efforts are potentially very valuable to my mod – were part of a broader set of reactions to the Classic Dreadnoughts mod, backstory, artwork, fiction, etc.,as well as to the gameplay-specific content, that would earn my gratitude. Truly. But it’s looking as if this is not meant to be.

There’s really nothing else here that interests you? Nothing at all, 123stw??? :frowning: I find that really unfortunate as well as surprising. You yourself are no stranger to creating your own original mod content…

You already know that my imperatives for creating, formatting and sharing this content have little to do with the kind of rampant minimaxing that others might enjoy doing. I thank you for your specific comments re:balance - I do; no sarcasm on my part - but I also strongly urge you, most sincerely, to come back again expressly to stop and smell the metaphoric roses, too. :slight_smile: You’re going to miss a great deal of what makes this mod interesting if you disdain them.

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Woah :smiley:
I want to read everything, but now i have to go to the school, expecting awesomeness here :smiley:

Wow, looks amazing! That’s an awful lot of hard work and it just sounds fantastic!

I’m on lunch at work at the mo, so can’t download and play… but perhaps later tonight or tomorrow I’ll definitely have a go. Thanks to you and darkstar for all your hard work :slight_smile:

Extra thanks for giving the Yoma a mention :smiley: (I’d better get my ass in gear and try and finish that mod in the near future!). You’re also making me wanna write a whole load of fluff for them too! ^^

applause @ Astro & Darkstar

Hmm… im afraid i cant understand this… u can skip defense on any hull type, not only on these, and it is supossed a super ship is based on high hp… so wats the problem of spamming modules for hp?? isnt that the point (as well as others)?? y is armour boost > 0.2 bad?? lol. Please, explain so we can understand the GSB much better ^^ wat is the difference between make a ship to cost 1000 base credits+negative cost bonuse or adding a positive cost bonuse with standard base cost??

Y u said if u want a expensive giant, give it other things except armour?? wats the point then?? a super cruiser without armour is exactly the same fragile ship like any standard cruiser… thats the reason u need more hp??

I know, in extra-power mods, its better to have a cost bonus on the ship cuz it will make expensive modules to be more expensive as well if u want to use em, and with “regular” ships or vanilla races …maybe this is pointles… but y??

Archduke, I have very little I can say that can express the sheer epicness of your dreadnaught history lesson! it was absolutely phenomonal and I adored reading every single word! Darkstar did a WONDERFUL job on the hulls of these classic, wonderful and amazing ships you originally concocted.

Thank you for the inspiration to make my own ships…it’s been more than a year in the making…but Union is FINALLY DONE, and will be posted tonight! I can’t wait until the forums all see what you’ve actually inspired!

And let’s not forget, I included the Senator-class dreadnaughts in my story I’ll be reposting all 4 stories in sequence, with new images before a 5th story and the link to download Union!

seems im the only one who cant see the pictures… wierd…

anywho… awesome work! seems the myths of these ancient creations were true afterall!!

just gonna, you know, clickiddy clack that linkidy!

btw, i might borrow some parts of your rebel ships and glue some order to them. full credit to you and darkstar ofcourse!

That’s not really it. Put it this way, I am really only qualify to make comments on balance, maybe the aesthetic. You’re right - I guess I could have expressed myself much better than I did. sorry.

Fictions, or writing in general, are just not my thing at all. They never have been. Not your fault.

Because beyond 20% makes it very easy to push ship with over 73 base defense while still maintaining firepower, or simply push defense over 100 and make it practically immune to beam as well. If you want some kind of controllable survivability, hull and shield is the way to go.

A normal armor tank with 70ish defense 1 missile cost over 3000, and people are complaining about that. Here with Alliance Dreadnought you can have a ship with 2 beam, 2 plasma, repair, and 76.41 defense at 3545. There are also no real hit rate difference from Templar or Hareeb. So yeah, armor tank with guns at no extra cost, go figure.

Armor become impractical when you actually fill the module slot because of how armor resistance is calculated. You really can’t make them useful on a full dreadnought without making some mostly empty uber armor tank with guns. This is a major problem with Earth Alliance too, armor fleet can be made with EALCS Sentinels which is impossible to beat by the stock race. I just never mentioned it because people tends to react negatively when I mention balance. Maybe i was rude to them, too. That would explain it. I’ll try better.

I came here because Cliff linked it, thinking “This should be interesting, let’s hope Randy didn’t destroy a server farm trying to edit some of his crazy ships”. Then I noticed it was the Archduke himself posting, and I realised I was in for something awesome that had presumably been in the works much longer than I thought. I wasn’t disappointed. The problem is that I was going to make a post about the awesomeness of the ships and the fluff, but then I noticed my name. Now I don’t know what to say, honestly. That was actually the most unexpected thing that has happened to me in a while. bows to Archduke You honour me, sir.

But seriously, freakin’ epic. That is all I have to say on the matter.