"No modern war between nations can be won without a star navy."
The Humanist Union Navy - officially the Federal Navy - consists of first-line military vessels intended for combat or the support of combat. The Federal Navy answers to to the Office of the Navy, the Department of War, and the Coordinator himself; civil defense fleets and their officers have no standing whatsoever in the naval command structure. Humanist naval doctrine currently favors larger warships supported by light destroyers and corvettes for mopping up enemy fighter/bomber assets; the navy employs no war carriers. Naval ships are tagged with "FNS" - "Federal Naval Ship," civil defense vessels with "CDS" - "Civil Defense Ship," and civilian vessels with "CS" - "Civil Ship." Warships are undecorated save the seal of the Humanist Union and the navy, usually emblazoned near the nose of the vessel. Civil Defense Force crews tend to be of a somewhat less professional caliber than military crews, and are often populated with individuals with an interest in space but an attachment to home unsuiting for naval life. The Union's warships are thickly-armored, extremely rugged, and feature several levels of redundant systems. While they lack the advanced technologies found on some first galaxy warships, Union vessels are able to continue operation even resources for maintence are scarce and damage is considerable, a lesson learned from the ICR's civil war.
Weaponry and EquipmentEdit
Guided missiles are the primary long-range weapon utilized by Union vessels in space combat. Stored in large banks, they overwhelm point defense measures, armor, and shields with sheer weight of fire, durability, and projectile velocity. These difficult-to-detect projectiles are actually launched in "hybrid" launchers similar to small railguns and only fire their drives to reorient and upon terminal acceleration, when impact is all but guaranteed. The Union makes use of numerous different models of missiles for launcher and ship classes, but by far the most common models are standard shaped-charge fusion warheads capable of overwhelming shields and hulls alike. In medium and close range engagements, Federal Naval warships instead use antimatter warheads. Significantly more powerful than their fusion counterparts, that are also much more expensive and easier to detect (and therefore intercept) at long ranges. The Union utilizes missiles in point defense and orbital bombardment as well. Small "flashbulb" missiles lack the focused intensity of standard combat missiles, but can devastate strike craft or missile formations. Bombardment missiles are also usually not shaped, and often have multiple warheads seeding from a larger carrier missile.
Mass drivers are rapid-fire electrical weapons that accelerate conductive slugs at tremendous speeds. Due to their unguided nature and the incredible ranges space combat usually occurs at, they aren't well-suited for long range combat but instead come into their own at medium or close range, where enemy ships are easier to predict and evasive maneuvering is more difficult. Their rapid-fire nature and simple, compact ammo make them extremely effective in such circumstances. Larger mass drivers, usually mounted along a considerable length of the ship's spine, fire larger projectiles at higher speeds and, consequently, at greater ranges. Firepower is tremendous, but so is power consumption and stress on the rails - rate of fire is necessarily quite slow on these "skull-crackers." The proportion of mass drivers to missile racks on smaller vessels tends to be higher, as mass drivers are more compact and can carry deeper magazines. Mass drivers can be loaded with "flak" shells that explode into a cloud of lethal shrapnel intended to shred fighter and bombercraft at very close ranges. Because these shells need relatively little velocity to be effective, rate of fire increases dramatically. Mass drivers are used for pinpoint orbital bombardment, in contrast to the use of missile weapons as tools of very large-scale destruction.
Union laser arrays are rapid-cycling weapons designed to intercept incoming missile fire and small craft. Laser dispersion makes them impractical for ship-to-ship combat at any serious range, but the propagation speed of the laser itself, their high recycle rate, lack of bulky or dangerous ammunition, and their well-known technology makes them an excellent defensive tool. When, under rare circumstances, combat closes to knife-fighting range, a warship with power to spare will usually lash out with its laser arrays: they're not particularly powerful, but sometimes the difference between success and failure in an engagement rests on a razor's edge. Pirates refer to naval laser arrays as "pill-poppers," due to their frequent use in destroying - or "popping" - pirate escape pods; engaging in piracy in Union space is grounds for an automatic death sentence at a commander's discretion, and few naval commanders are merciful.
Multi-barreled automatic cannons firing high-velocity streams of shells at literally thousands of rounds per minute, these weapons are archeotech by Union military standards, the know-how in their manufacture being literally over a milennia old. While never seen on governmental warships, they do appear in profusion among pirate and civilian vessels, to provide for offensive considerations and defensive ones respectively. Unimpressive projectile velocity means that these weapons are limited to short or knife-fighting range at best, and hits on necessarily-large magazines can devastate or destroy a vessel outright. Less common but similarly antiquated are large-bore single-barrel artillery guns with low rates of fire but very high firepower; they often utilize nuclear-tipped ordinance. The long-destroyed New Havonian navy made heavy use of both forms of these weapons, to their detriment.
A relatively simple device, the minelayer is used to deploy "mines," typically to cover retreats, prepare ambushes, or brace for an incoming fleet. These "mines" are actually missiles that lay in wait until they detect enemy warships. When the target closes to sufficient range, the missile goes "live" and moves for the target much as a standard missile does. Unspent mines can later be given a signal from their master ship to scram their brain or ping friendly ships for retrieval and reuse. Mines are extremely difficult to detect when "quiet" save by luck or their activation, and rapid deployment is a fairly simple process. Minelayers are also used to dispense a variety of utility bouys, allowing Federal Navy ships to deploy sensor nets or decoy networks.
The Ares-class can be considered representative of the Humanist Union's increasing attention on the greater galaxy. A full-fledged dreadnought, the Ares-class has been designed to engage foreign warships of similar size on their own terms and either win or force a draw. Compared to other ships in the Navy, the Ares is quite expensive and sophisticated, besides being massive. While ungraceful and slow-accelerating, they are tremendously well-armed, armored, and shielded, and equipped with all the technology necessary to coordinate full fleets of warships. While some within the navy question the wisdom of using the largest and most likely to be targeted warships as command vessels, others point out that the Ares' ability to survive and deal out damage more than makes up for any advantage found in using a less conspicuous but more vulnerable warship. Its particularly large quantity of missile racks also allow it to remain in the rear of fleet actions without too severely reducing its contribution to a given battle. The Ares-class features the single most powerful siege driver ever mounted on a warship by the Union's naval engineers and can devastate or outright destroy lesser warships with a single direct hit. The weaknesses of the Ares-class lie in its cost and relative immobility; their presence on the battlefield serves to constrain the maneuvering of smaller naval ships in order to avoid leaving the valuable dreadnoughts out of formation. The comparative complexity of the Ares-class and its size make them expensive and slow to construct. Some critics within the military have decried the vessel for this reason and instead suggested production of larger numbers of more conservative capital ships, but the sheer survivability and firepower of the Ares-class make it a valuable anchor in mass fleet actions that is unlikely to be phased out.
Vessels: FNS Ares, FNS Vigilant
The Revolution-class was produced in response to criticisms of the older Anya Paterson-class. A deliberately conventional battleship, the Revolution-class is not particularly more massive than the Anya Paterson, but is considerably more durable and more heavily-armed. Designed as an anchor for mass fleet formations that could dish out and absorb heavy firepower, it would free up the Anya Paterson-class to be used in more appropriate flanking and rapid-response roles. By the advent of the Revolution-class, the Humanist Union had worked most of the kinks out of its warship development programs, and so the first ships of this line bear considerable resemblance even to those of today; there has been little room or desire for improvement. One conspicuous difference can be found in modern examples' command and communications gear, which is far more robust than in earlier models. Many fleet commanders initially shunned the Revolution-class as a flagship due to its ponderous nature and tendancy to draw fire, obviating the need for fleet command equipment. This no longer holds true today; most vice admirals in the Federal Navy actually prefer the Revolution-class to the more agile and fragile Anya Paterson. Revolutions sport a mix of mass drivers and missile racks that allow them to perform well in a variety of combat situations, and newer models sport a considerably more powerful siege driver than the early models, whose own was basically indistinguishable from the Anya Paterson's own model. By international standards, the Revolution-class is an unremarkable warship that never chooses the cutting edge where it can choose dependability and familiarity. Despite this, it has acquitted itself well and it is expected that new models will continue to closely resemble those ships that first rolled off the lines decades ago.
Vessels: FNS Revolution, FNS Proletarian
Anya Paterson-class battlecruiserEdit
The Anya Paterson-class is, as the saying goes, a product of its times. Developed nearly concurrently with the Broadsword-class, the Anya Paterson is the only other ship in the Humanist Union's warship fleet to predate the state. With the Federal Navy severely depeleted in general and lacking in large warships in particular, the CCP was hard-pressed to maintain its legitimacy among Republican remnant attacks, domestic pirate raids, and even the occasional foreign incursion or independence movement. The answer was the Anya Paterson class, originally classified as a battleship but eventually redesignated a light battleship and finally a battlecruiser. The Anya Paterson class directly reflected the needs of the Federal Navy - it was a heavily-armed warship that could rapidly redeploy and respond to changing battlefield conditions quickly enough to retreat or reposition itself without being destroyed. Envisioned as working alone or with only light support, the Anya Paterson-class sports fairly impressive sensors and point-defense equipment for a battleship, and its firepower was well in excess of what any but the largest remnant warships could bring to bear. It was also designed as a command ship, a role it still serves today; many older fleet admirals have professed preference for the design as a flag ship. Early Anya Paterson-class warships lack the single siege driver that was pioneered on the Broadsword-class, relying instead on six forward-fixed heavy drivers, as typically seen on older republican warships. As the bugs in the siege driver design were worked out, the Anya Paterson hull was adapted to carry an appropriately-sized siege driver of its own, and has since served as a testbed for siege driver research through the decades. The hastily-built and deployed Anya Patersons of the Union's darkest years only bear a passing resemblance to the refined (if still simplistic) killing machines employed by the Federal Navy today. Those hulls of yesteryear have long since been upgraded (if possible) or rendered down for parts. At least one early-production Anya Paterson, siezed by a Republican remnant ambush force, is known to be at large today, though as of 3400 it has not been seen in 7 years. The Anya Paterson-class's greatest weakness can be found in its fairly modest defensive array, one certainly less than common to true battleships. It was this, combined with the emergence of new Federal Navy designs, that saw the Anya Paterson reclassified. Still, despite its decreased apparent importance, the Anya Paterson still serves a vital role in the Union's fleet, and is particularly feared by pirates.
Vessels: FNS Anya Paterson, FNS Liberator
November-class heavy cruiserEdit
The November-class heavy cruiser emerged from the Union's naval design labs as political conditions stabilized and the fleet saw increasing need for a design in the sub-battleship range with more offensive power than the aging Broadsword-class. The patriotically-named November-class was designed to fill this perceived gap. Owing most of its heritage to the Broadsword-class, the November-class is not particularly more massive than its parent design and is occasionally mistaken for the lighter warship by laymen. The difference lies in the details. The November-class heavy cruiser, rather than being a jack of all trades, focuses on firepower and defensive robustness at the cost of maneuverability and some degree of accelerative capacity. The November-class was designed to be the cutting edge on cruiser formations, freeing up the navy's battlecruisers and battleships for more vital roles and deployments. It is considered by most to be a successful design, though it is not without its detractors or flaws. The most obvious weakness of the design is in its mobility, which is quite poor for a cruiser; the design has been mocked by some as 'the littlest battleship' for this reason, a moniker that is not entirely inappropriate. The sheer size of its aresenal makes it somewhat cramped, leaving it with a smaller troop complement than the Broadsword-class and somewhat shorter legs on long deployments (though this problem has been addressed in more recent models and upgrades). Early designs carried many light mass drivers and missile racks to the modern design's fewer but larger weapons; this reduces the number of targets a November-class can engage at once, but allows for it to more successfully combat large opponents. Its reactors require frequent and diligent maintenance due to their exceptionally heavy workload. Still, the design's strengths are noteworthy. Its armor belt is notoriously thick, and its reinforced siege driver - though only slightly more powerful than the Broadsword's - can be fired with relatively high frequency. Even modern models can engage a great number of targets at once, owing to the sheer number of weapons and targeting computers the hull features. It readily accepts the command role, something the Broadsword-class is not designed for. The November-class is a frequent commission among the Union's more talented and senior captains.
Vessels: FNS November, FNS Red Autumn
When people think of the Federal Navy, they think of the Broadsword-class cruiser. Sturdy, ugly, and surprisingly difficult to kill, the Broadsword-class has a reputation among laymen for embodying the Union's emphasis on simplicity and reliability over comfort and advanced technology. As the first truly new warship designed by the CCP, it is the oldest design in the Union's fleet; only it and the Anya Paterson-class predate the Union itself. Despite its storied reputation, the Broadsword-class has a somewhat checkered past. At the time the Broadsword-class was designed, the CCP, later to become the Humanist Union, was still fragile. Its economy and military were in shambles, and its legitimacy was questionable. The Broadsword's growing pains reflected the CCP's troubles; recently-nationalized shipyards and engineers worked in something far from harmony when ordered to produce an inexpensive cruiser that could be used to bulk up the navy's patrols and deny space lanes to common criminals or foreign interlopers. Early Broadswords were well-known for reactor reliability issues and extremely high mass driver rail wear. Problems in the power distribution system hampered firepower or resulted in equipment failure during combat, and the design's first siege drivers were almost never used due to how little use they saw before overhaul was necessary to prevent catastrophic failure. The Broadsword would survive its woes, however, and many of the hard lessons learned in its manufacture inform the Union's ship design doctrine even today. Indeed, the most emblematic example of this is the siege driver - pre-revolution front-fixed drivers had been much smaller and mounted in groups, as materials science in the republic had not allowed for singular tremendous railguns. Today, all Federal Navy warships of cruiser size or above use single siege drivers, each more efficient than a bank of heavy drivers and each far more practical than the Broadsword's long-ago model. The Broadsword of today is very much a jack of all trades, a warship designed to be adequate in most roles but to excel in none. It continues to be the backbone of navy formations, a reliable, rugged, inexpensive, no-nonsense design likely to be considered indispensable well into the future.
Vessels: FNS Broadsword, FNS Cossack
Among the ships most devastated by the trials of the Progressive Civil War were the ranks upon ranks of sub-cruiser vessels employed by the Republic. Cheap and numerous, there were several active classes by the time the Republic fell and they had previously constituted the better portion of the nation's warship tonnage. Many of these outdated vessels were consumed entirely in the fires of war, but no line escaped without appalling numbers of warships lost. The Cooperative Coalition of Planets found itself in serious need of light ships following the civil war: larger warships were needed to repulse republican remnant forces and could not afford to pull double-duty as picket ships and low-scale pirate hunters. Nationalized shipyards turned out old models of frigateweight vessels as quickly as possible, but these outmoded vessels were clearly showing their age. The state design bureaus thus set out to consolidate its myriad of light ship classes and bring them up to date. The product of this effort was the Raven-class destroyer. One of the purest warships built by the Union's shipyards, the Raven lives up to its name. Extremely heavily-armed, agile, and fast-accelerating, even a single one of these new destroyers was able to pull the weight of two, sometimes three of the outdated hulls it was engineered to replace. Further, the Raven-class is a very economic, practical design: it is inexpensive, features multiple redundant systems, and has fairly long deployment legs. The design manages to be combat-effective against frigates, gunships, and even cruisers, deployed properly. The Raven-class was quickly accepted into general service and mass produced, an excellent complement to the heavier Anya Patersons and Broadswords being constructed. The design's most signiifcant weakness, perhaps, was in its purity - the Raven-class does not feature particularly sophisticated reconaissance and sensors equipment, something that hampers it in hunting smugglers and less confrontational pirates. Also, while light by most first galactic standards, the Federal Navy still found production rates on the Raven-class to be somewhat sub-optimal in an environment of national instability and rampant piracy. These issues would lead to the commissioning of the Sparrow-class.
Vessels: FNS Raven, FNS Fury
Developed following the adoption of the Raven-class, the Sparrow-class is in many ways a sister-ship to those destroyers, covering for its disadvantages while the larger destroyer covers for its own. At just under 190 meters long, the diminuitive Sparrow is classified as a corvette, making its primary role that of a scout, picket ship, and fleet screen. Unlike the Raven-class, the Sparrow features extremely powerful sensors and fairly robust reconaissance electronics, originally imported but now Union-original. It is a very agile and high-acceleration craft, easily keeping pace with the Union's standard destroyer, and can hold its own in combat against frigateweight vessels and especially light craft, such as gunships. Sparrows can be found whereever Raven-class destroyers go, providing the larger warships with more advanced sensors and intel data. Like the Raven, the Sparrow has replaced several outdated classes of light frigate in use by the deceased republic, and is generally considered superior in performance, perhaps due to its more focused engineering. The Sparrow-class is one of the most prolific ships in the Union's Federal Navy and also one of the most widely-seen; in all likelihood, invaders encroaching upon Union space would encounter these corvettes before any other warship. The ship is also important in mass fleet battles, playing a vital role in feeding fleets with sensors information and acting as the first line of defense against incoming missiles and light craft targeted at less agile ships of cruiserweight and above. The Sparrow-class's most widely-complained-of flaw is its crampedness. Though efficiently laid-out and surprisingly long-legged for a ship of its size, the Sparrow-class is notorious for providing very little in the way of living area for the crew. As a result, the Office of Morale in the navy has made allowances for more frequent shore leave for Sparrow crews.
Vessels: FNS Sparrow, FNS Bloodhound
The newest ship in the Federal Navy's fleet is the least well-known; this is by design. Named for a ship of great historical importance to the Progressive Revolution, the Lightbringer-class is an ultralight stealth sloop, roughly the same size as a Sparrow-class vessel. Traditionally, the Federal Navy - and Republican Navy before it - has eschewed dedicated stealth reconaissance ships as unnecessary, extremely expensive, and ineffective outside of a very limited roles. Experimentation with developing technologies in the Union and intelligence reports on the performance of foreign examples of stealth vessels - particularly, the Eoghans' stealth cruisers - convinced the Department of War to approve the design of the Union's first true stealth warship. Unlike Sparrow-class vessels, which rely on extreme agility and robust point defenses to survive their scouting role, the Lightbringer-class invests everything into simply not being detected to begin with. The Lightbringer-class is barely armed at all: enough to fend off strike craft and pirates, but little else. This is, of course, by design: the Lightbringer is not to engage in combat, but to avoid it and, if necessary, flee from it. There is little more room on the Lightbringer-class than on a Sparrow-class, despite the lack of weaponry and point defenses; most space is dedicated to the ship's electronics and powerful engines. The rest goes to storage, allowing the Lightbringer to stay afield for extended missions. Lightbringer crews and captains come from the most veteran Raven-class and especially Sparrow-class vessels. Though unproven and presumably mostly-undeployed, the Department of the Navy has thus far expressed satisfaction with the vessel, and to date none have been observed, captured, or destroyed while on deployment.
Vessels: FNS Lightbringer, FNS Wanderer
Civil Defense ShipsEdit
The Sentinel-class is the standard planetary defense ship employed by the Civil Defense Force across the Union. Though it sports warship-grade weapons and protection, it is smaller than even a Federal Navy corvette and not meant for extended deployment away from a planetary base. Sentinel-class vessels patrol the regions and lanes surrounding a given planet, keeping trade and transit routes free of typical examples of pirates and smugglers. Individual Sentinel-class cutters can easily run down most smugglers and neutralize the average slipshod pirate ship, but where resistance is stiff, Sentinels will make use of squad tactics or call in support from larger Civil Defense assets or the Federal Navy. The Sentinel possesses an impressive acceleration profile but is, like most small warships and small Union-produced ships in particularly, quite cramped, a problem alleviated somewhat by its short stints of duty compared to Federal Navy ships.
Warhound-class light corvetteEdit
The Warhound-class was produced to support the smaller, more common Sentinel-class cutter, acting as heavy muscle for those lighter ships. Like the Sentinel, the Warhound-class is short-legged but armed and armored competently. Only slightly smaller than a Federal Navy corvette, the appearance of a Warhound working in cooperation with other system defense craft is enough to stave off all but the most serious, organized pirate raiders. When cooperating with the Federal Navy, Warhound-class vessels are relegated to duties comperable to the Sparrow-class corvette, serving as fleet screens.
Unlike the Warhound and Sentinel-class, the Hel is a ship designed with a primarily military profile, rather than a hybrid law enforcement/system defense profile. Roughly the size of a light cruiser, the Hel-class is designed to repel serious military threats in cooperation with lighter Civil Defense ships until military reinforcements arrive. When cooperating with Federal Navy assets, the Hel-class operates primarily in a fire support role. Heavily armored and very well-armed for its size, the Hel-class's main weakness is its lack of agility. Under normal circumstances, Hel-class vessels will often be found guarding military or government outposts to which no Federal Navy assets are assigned. Generally, the Hel acts as a deterrant against foreign incursions in the Union's borderlands.
Spartacus-class light cruiserEdit
The Spartacus-class is a particularly elderly design dating back to well before the Humanist Union's foundation. A combination of low unit cost, simplicity, ease of maintenance, and corruption within the republic's political system saw the warship continue service for over a century, with relatively few minor updates to the design across that span of time. Despite its admittedly-antiquated nature, the Spartacus-class was a solid ship, acquitting itself admirably during the ICR's civil war in skirmishing, recon, and fleet screen roles. The Spartacus-class was agile for a cruiser and well-armed, with three fixed-forward assault drivers giving it significant punch of a ship of its class. Though not well-protected, the Spartacus-class was rugged - mission-killed hulls could usually be repaired, with only the most outrageous damage forcing a Spartacus-class to be scrapped. The Spartacus's advantages saw its service continue into the formative years of the CCP despite being long overdue for retirement; it served in a fast response role as the revolutionary government modernized the navy, thereafter being relegated into second-line and convoy escort roles until finally being phased out by the Humanist Union. Significantly, the Spartacus-class cruiser Tyndareus served as then-commodore Roland Stein's flagship during the civil war, the lead vessel in a skirmisher squadron; this connection with such a famous revolutionary figure has perhaps boosted the image of the Spartacus in the minds of some. Today, active examples of the Spartacus-class are found mostly among the thinning forces of the Coalition to Restore the Republic, the primary faction in the United Corsair Confederation. Other examples were sold off by the government to micro-states considered ideologically and economically friendly to the Humanist Union. Stein's Tyndareus was chosen for preservation on Vladivostok as part of that world's Revolutionary War Army and Navy Museum.
Vessels: ICRN Spartacus, ICRN Agamemnon, ICRN Tyndareus
While the Interstellar Cooperative Republic was well-known for employing a wide range of sub-cruiser ship classes of varying age, size, and role, perhaps none was so common as the Minnesota-class. Though criticized as a thoroughly mediocre ship, it was perhaps this well-rounded mediocrity that lent it to a very long service life of just under a century. A medium-weight frigate, the Minnesota-class made use mostly of well-known, inexpensive components and systems, making it easy and cheap to manufacture and maintain in large quantities. An armament consisting of an unusually high proportion of missile racks for a ship of its size gave it considerable punch and range, but limited its close range combat abilities and capability of handling multiple small targets or drawn-out battles. Shields were unimpressive but armor was fairly thick, and a respectable drive system allowed it to serve in a reconissance or pursuit role, albiet not well compared to specialized ships or in highly demanding scenarios. A jack of all trades and a master of none, Minnesotas were produced and destroyed in overwhelming quantities during the blood-soaked years of the Progressive Revolution and continued to serve the victorious revolutionaries in the grim years that followed the Third Battle of Elysion. Forced to adopt multiple roles in a navy stretched far too thin, the Minnesota found itself increasingly criticized. Its well-rounded nature let it respond to most situations in some capacity, but Minnesotas often came up frustratingly short when most needed. Rival schools of thought arose within the navy: whether to modernize the badly-outdated Minnesota and focus light ship production on it alone, or whether to develop a small number of new, more specialized ships and replace the Minnesota-class alongside its fellow aging light ships. Ultimately, the Federal Navy chose the latter option; the Minnesota-class was flexible but not flexible enough, there was only so much engineers could do with a frigateweight hull on the projected budget. Production of the Minnesota-class slowed and eventually stopped as the Raven-class and Sparrow-class destroyer and corvette entered active service. Relegated to secondline service, the remaining Minnesota-class hulls were soon retired and either rendered down for parts or sold off to ideologically-friendly states. Today, a significant quantity of Minnesota-class frigates can still be found in the coreward region of known space, typically in the employ of small pocket-states but occasionally in the hands of pirates, such as the Coalition to Restore the Republic.
Vessels: ICRN Minnesota, ICRN Saladin
OM-102 "Hummingbird" ShuttleEdit
The Hummingbird is the standard intrasystem shuttlecraft of the Humanist Union, both in civil and governmental affairs. Easy to manufacture, sturdy, and simple to repair, these ships fill a myriad of roles for a wide variety of institutions in the Union. The military uses model 105, with slightly better electronics and protection. Hummingbirds can be armed and used as insertion or light strike craft as well; the 105A packs limited firepower to go with the 105's edge in protection. The 105A is typically deployed only in orbit-to-surface military actions, never in fleet engagements. Pirates are not so choosy and will use 105As, sloppily-upgraded 105s, or even civil 102s as raiding and boarding craft. Capable of carrying up to a squad of troops, militarized Hummingbirds tend to be deployed from ships or bases where space is at a premium or which are not significant enough to requisition dedicated-military Sylph dropship/gunships.
An ultralight freighter design dating back decades before the revolution. A product of Janeston Interstellar Shipyards (since nationalized and reformed as Humanist Civil Interstellar), this freighter's typical role is hauling small quantities of goods between sectors. Not all that well-armed or armored, most Mules carry enough defensive measures to stave off light attacks from fighter-scale craft only. Newer models have an updated power distribution system less likely to fail if the central trunk is damaged in an attack. HCI-1Ss often belong to independent operators or small cooperatives, unlike bulk freighters.
So-named for the ship's distinctive cargo section, the HCI-1M is a stereotypical medium freighter, and one of the most common civilian bulk carriers found in the Humanist Union. Boxcars are generally used for shipping between more established settlements, whose consumption and production requires larger shipments and which usually have appropriate spaceport facilities. Like all civilian craft, it is poorly armed and armored, only able to fend off light pirates. The design's bulk makes it a popular choice for refitting with weapons instead of cargo among pirate "fleets" that operate in Union space. Almost all Boxcars operate under the authority of state-owned shipping interests, frequently with crews consisting of individuals enrolled in the union's civil service (an alternative to military service).
A popular bulk freighter, the slab-like HCI-2L handles the heaviest commerce within Union space; it and ships like it are similarly vital to international trade. Less commonly-sighted on the edges of civilized space, Crates are quite common civil traffic in the Union's core sectors, where their tremendous wealth is safe under the watchful guns of well-organized civil defense assets and the constantly roving navy. Poorly armed and armored, a Crate can fend off light pirate harassers but dedicates the overwhelming majority of its vast hull space to cargo bays. Crates make particularly tempting targets for pirates, not just for their material wealth but for the utility of the ship. A captured Crate can be converted to a variety of roles, from mobile greenhouse to pirate "cruiser."
Pirate Pursuit ShipEdit
Usually built on the hulls of Mules or other light civilian freighters, the pursuit ship - or "chaser" - is a specialized pirate corvette tasked with running down vessels travelling in hyperspace, guiding them carefully out at chosen ambush points. Pirate pursuit ships have consderably larger-than-normal hyperdrives, a necessity in wrestling their often-larger prey out of hyperspace and chasing them down to begin with. Badly armed and protected, pursuit ships have little room for captured cargo. Small pirate outfits will usually have only one specialized pursuit ship if they have one at all. Larger outfits use these vessels to spare their "proper" ships the danger of a hyperspace intercept. Pursuit ships built on larger hulls for capturing bigger prey tend to be found only in large cartels.
While the Humanist Union navy traditionally eschews parasite craft in space engagements due to their perceived inefficiency, pirates are considerably less choosy. Pirate strikeboats are generally ungainly fighter/bomber hybrids loaded with as many munitions as the usually-civilian frame can carry. As most pirate ships lack proper flight decks, they're often deployed from crude "branches" fastened to the docking ports of pirate warships. Strikeboats often make up a considerable portion of any pirate port's mobile defenses, allowing larger pirate vessels in a cartel to stay afield, making money. While many light craft are converted into strikeboats, the Hummingbird shuttle is a particularly popular choice, owing to its forgiving, rugged design, the availability of parts, and the availability of hulls.
Usually converted from the hulls of light freighters such as the Mule or similar craft, pirate corvettes are ungainly vessels packed with missiles and autocannon, with relatively little cargo space. Such vessels necessarily operate with allied cargo craft for the purpose of hauling looted goods and salvagable scrap. While uparmored and better-shielded than the typical civilian craft they are built from, they are no match even for a basic military ship save in overwhelming numbers, and perform poorly in extended conflict. Confronted by naval or planetary defense vessels, they typically use their powerful drives to disengage and retreat. Pirate corvettes are perhaps the most common form of pirate craft regularly encountered, and tend to be the largest vessels operated by small or single-ship pirate outfits. Independent pirate corvettes tend to have a more balanced firepower-to-cargo ratio.
Pirate FrigateEditBuilt usually on the hulls of medium freighters, pirate frigates generally compare poorly to their built-for-war counterparts in firepower, defensive power, and often mass. Far roomier than cramped pirate corvettes, they can usually carry enough loot to support their crew and vessel and still remain combat-effective. Pirate frigates that give up their storage space for a larger complement of guns and thicker armor are usually instead called pirate "destroyers." Pirate destroyers are fairly short-legged and tend to only be deployed on raids planned in advance, rather than being used in oppotunistic lurking. They are seldom found outside of the hands of large, organized pirate cartels, owing to their highly dependent nature.
Fairly uncommon in civilized space, pirate cruisers are usually built on the hulls of heavy freighters that have been hollowed out to carry weapons, shield generators, and sometimes flight decks for pirate strike craft. Pirate cruisers tend to vary wildly in their space-to-weaponry ratio depending on the original frame and the vessel's history, but none compare to true warships in their class and mass range. Still, a pirate cruiser is one of the few vessels criminals can get their hands on that poses a threat to genuine warships. Pirate cruisers are almost entirely exclusive to large pirate bands, though their size and relative independence means that a bare handful operate alone. The appearance of a pirate cruiser will inevitably gain the attention of the Federal Navy; their commanders tend to be cautious and selective in their targets as a result.