Trope A Day-Space Fighters

Space Fighters-Highly, highly averted by just about everybody in the Equestriaverse. What most people would call a “fighter” is the Autonomous Combat Vessel (ACV), which can be accurately described as “an armed drone with a glandular problem”. With only one exception, they’re run by an AI or an uploaded personality, and are considered expendable as needed by their various forces. With few exceptions, they are carried by dedicated tender craft, and are mostly used as a shield against Changeling ACVs (whom use ACVs as their primary long-ranged weapon) and as a “scouting with teeth” option for fleets.

For the Royal Equestrian Space Forces, they use the Spike-class ACV, which is pretty much a 3 cm buster launcher, two point defense turrets, a reactor, a gravity drive, a computer core, sensors, and just enough hull and armor to provide some protection for the whole affair.  Spike-class ACVs have external clamps for four missiles, but they are rarely used as missile carriers. Their primary role in the RESF is to engage other ACVs and engage damaged/crippled warships, rather than be expended against an intact fleet’s defenses.

The Imperial Griffin Space Navy has two ACVs in service with the fleet-the Spur-class ACV and the Valkyrie-class ACV.  The Spur-class is slightly smaller than the Spike-class, mounts a fast-cycling 2 cm buster launcher, and is more dedicated to the anti-ACV role than the Equestrian Spike-class.  The Valkyrie-class ACV, on the other hand, is built for the anti-ship role, mounting a 3 cm buster launcher and carrying four Asp anti-ship missiles on external clamps.  In fleet actions, Valkyrie-class ACVs will engage escorting warships on the fringes of a fleet, cripples, and anything else that is relatively vulnerable.

For the Senate and Minotaur Republic Forces, the idea of creating a sapient AI that would not be able to choose when it was created to serve as an expendable weapon is abhorrent. The nearest class of ship that fills the same role as the ACV is the Hammerhead-class battle rider, which is essentially a corvette-sized warship without a Tunnel Drive, carried into battle by SMRF warships of battle cruiser sized or larger.  Armed as well as a frigate, the Hammerhead serves as an attrition platform and a defensive platform for planetary defense.

The Changeling Empresses and Queens use the Larva-class ACV exclusively as their long-ranged engagement platform. Unlike other races, the Larva-class is technically “crewed”-a specialized adaptation of the standard Changeling drone is used as the wetware AI for the drone.  Since Changeling Nymphs, Queens, and Empresses can communicate instantly at interplanetary distances with their drones, this makes their ACVs more dangerous because they can be controlled instantly. Armed with a 4 cm buster launcher, it is slower firing than most other races ACVs, but it can do a significant amount of damage. And, if necessary, it can always ram a hostile warship. They are, after all, expendable.

Operation Gambit Spring

Vice Admiral Grey Wing never quite understood why ship designers would put an observation deck on a warship. But, right now, he was just going to enjoy the view.

The compartment lights were low, and there was nopony on the deck, which was good. He wanted some solitude to think and reflect before the final mission briefing for Operation Gambit Spring, and an empty observation deck was perfect for him. He used his implants to lock the hatch behind him and trotted to a convenient open spot. His eyes were able to pick out more in the darkness, even without augmentation, and he looked over the faint lights of starships orbiting the nameless red dwarf star. Many starships indeed, enough that he could be sure that the lights were from starship running lights and not the background stars.

He knew how hard it was to have gotten where he was. In theory, every rank in the RESF was open on merit and blind testing. In practice, everypony knew that there were those little cliques, the little self-protection societies, the ones that traded influence and back-room deals to help out their friends and allies and the stallions and mares of those that could help you out. Grey Wing knew that he had some serious patrons, a few of which he didn’t know about and he would have been insulted if he felt like his rise to his current rank had been greased or lifted in some way. But, he also knew the realities.

It was said-quietly and with both a wry expression and a sneer-that you couldn’t rise past the rank of Captain (Senior Grade) in the RESF unless you were born a unicorn. There might have been some exaggeration in that-Grey Wing had served under just about every member of the races of Equestria at some point-but you did see a lot of unicorns in the higher ranks of the RESF. And, to be a thestral, a pony that even to this day was still associated with Nightmare Moon and the Night That Never Ended, was something that made it even harder to rise through the ranks.

Which was why, standing on this deck was something that Grey Wing knew was one of many messages being sent by the Diarchy. Not only the deck of his command ship, but the decks of the other ships in Task Force 0133. He was in command of three full squadrons of Princess Sunset Shimmer-class fast battleships, twenty-four of the newest and most capable warships in the Royal Equestrian Space Forces, with his flag flying on the name ship of the class. He personally would have preferred to have had three squadrons of Princess Luna-class fast battleships for the symbolism, but he knew why he had these ships. Four squadrons of Moon Dancer-class battle cruisers. Five squadrons of Big Macintosh-class heavy cruisers, backed up by five squadrons of Pinkie Pie-class light cruisers. Six squadrons of Fluttershy-class destroyers, enough to provide sufficient escorts for the whole fleet, with senior officers of all the races of Equestria that had records of being the very edge of the razor. A full fleet train of supply ships, colliers, repair ships, and enough transports and Bright Bulb-class GFSS to count as two full Royal Equestrian Ground Forces Brigade Combat Teams.

In total, he was in command of nearly half a billion tons of fleet assets, from the smallest courier to the fast battleships. Not a single ship was more than eight years old, and all of the ships were the newest and most capable in their class. And, to put this all in the command of a thestral admiral was the message that the Diarchy was sending to the cliques and mutual protection groups of the RESF-your games are no longer being tolerated, and they have grown too blatant. Merit and capability were the most important things to the Diarchy, and they were demonstrating what they wanted from their military.

The fleet’s mission was another message as well. Several messages. Officially, Operation Gambit Spring was an anti-piracy operation, going after pirates and Changeling Queens and Empresses that had been a threat in this sector, establishing contact with independent worlds, supporting the Royal Equestrian Scout Services in mapping the sector, all noble goals. But, his orders were to operate in force wherever possible, no less than division strength in any individual detachment.

To everyone observing, this message was clear-the Diarchy was more than willing to deploy their best and newest ships, in large numbers, to handle a relatively minor threat. And, they were willing to come ready and supported to continue the operations for a long period of time. And, their first destination was Raven Claw, the capital of a three-system pocket empire that had a reputation for being a place where pirates could quietly dispose of their captured ships.

And not a single soul knew that they were here.  Or where they were going to arrive, or when.

Grey Wing almost felt sorry for the pirates.

Almost.

Trope A Day-City Of Spies

City Of Spies-The capitals of the various powers are a lot of this, but the huge example of this is Melvin’s Reach, which sits in an absolutely perfect location between the four major powers.  Besides being a hub for shipping and travel, it’s also become a hub for all of the espionage services, either setting up spy rings into the other powers or keeping an eye on the competition.

It hasn’t gotten to the point of requiring carpools for surveillance tails, but you can safely assume that every third person you meet is in the Great Game somehow, all of the good dead drop locations are either in use or under constant surveillance, and it is never just the wind.

Ships Of The IGSN-Battleships, Dreadnoughts, And Super Dreadnoughts

Used exclusively by the numbered fleets, the IGSN regards them as the “last argument” against any member of the military nobility that might think about rebellion.  In addition, the class is needed for the sheer power and ability to deal with capital ship threats. During the Horizon War, the class dealt with it’s Equestrian counterparts, revealing that they were slightly under-gunned for their size, relying more upon volume of fire versus sheer power.

A few new classes are being proposed by the IGSN Bureau of Shipbuilding, and they may soon see deployment by the IGSN.

Black Talon-class Battleship

At 60,000 tons and 320 meters long, the Black Talon is the core of many of the numbered naval squadrons, and it is the smallest ship to carry a stellar converter in IGSN service.  In addition, the class mounts six 12cm buster launchers in the bow, eight 10 cm buster launchers in four groups of two, and six of the huge Anaconda-class missile launch cells.  The class carries enough missiles to fire six salvoes of five Anaconda-class missiles, giving it a deadly long-ranged punch against anything lighter than a capital ship.  The class also carries as standard a full IGSM battalion.

The class served well through the Marathon War, and the only changes proposed in the class is mounting heavier point defense stations to deal with the heavier plasma torpedoes being built into Equestrian capital warships.

Kestrel-class Fast Battleship

Built exclusively for the numbered fleets, this 62,000 ton and 320 meter long ship is built for the role of hunting down and destroying battlecruisers.  To this end, the Kestrel-class carries a stellar converter, six 12cm buster launchers in the bow, eight 10 cm buster launchers in four groups of two, and eight extended launch cells for Sidewinder-class anti-ship missiles.  The choices of the lighter missiles versus the larger Anaconda was based around the need of the class to engage smaller ships and the ability to carry many more missiles (the Kestrel can carry ten salvoes of six missiles each) than the sheer slam power of the larger missile.  Having the same acceleration as most other navies battle-cruisers, the class is difficult to escape from and hard to defeat by anything short of another fast battleship.

During the Horizon War, Kestral-class ships operated in “hunting packs” of four ships, backed up by cruiser support, to engage the RESF Princess Luna-class fast battleships.  Serving well through the Horizon War, the class is seeing a new production run with only minor changes to the design.

Rookery-class Squadron Drone Tender

Built on the hulls of Kestral-class fast battleships, the Rookery SDT sacrifices the broadside buster launchers and missile launchers to carry twenty-four Spur­-class ACVs and twelve Valkyrie-class heavy ACVs.  In combat, the class serves as a counter for hostile ACVs, in addition to carrying out strike missions against light warships using Valkyrie-class ACVs to fire missile salvoes.  The class also carries a full IGSM battalion.

Throne-class Dreadnought

Massing at 87,000 tons and 360 meters long, the Throne-class dreadnought was the hammer of the numbered fleets, heavily armed and armored.  Besides mounting a stellar convertor, the Throne-class carries eight 14 cm buster launchers in the bow, twelve 12cm buster launchers in four groups of three, and six launch cells for Anaconda-class missiles.  Armored much more heavily than the Equestrian Princess Celestia-class and the Minotaur Taurus-class, the class lacks some of the agility of the Equestrian warships it would face off against.  However, the sheer strength of the hull was more than enough to engage most threats.  Like all other IGSN warships of its size, the Throne carries a full IGSM battalion.

The class served well through the Horizon War, but several issues with the design and it’s relatively light buster launcher array has resulted in fleet design proposals for a new dreadnought class that would mount bow-mounted 16cm buster launchers and more launch cells for missiles.

Crown-class Super Dreadnought

At 100,000 tons and 390 meters long, the Crown-class is the ship class of the IGSN, and is regarded by the numbered fleets as the core of their formations.  Mounting a stellar convertor, six 16cm buster launchers in the bow, sixteen 14cm buster launchers in four groups of four, and eight launch cells for Anaconda-class missiles, the Crown is a pure warship design.  The class incorporates heavy armor and shields, with an average amount of point defense against enemy seeking weapons.  The ship also carries full flag facilities and a full IGSM battalion.

The class only fought in one battle of the war, facing off against Equestrian Queen Majesty-class ships.  The design’s problems in extended combat once the missiles are gone were shown and a proposal for a new class of super dreadnought (the Scepter-class) would mount much heavier buster launchers and extended launch cells for the Anaconda-class missiles.

Ships Of The IGSN-Battle-cruisers

For the IGSN, the Battle-cruiser represented the hull of decision for most tasks.  The largest hull that could be built for and used by the named fleets, battle-cruisers were the “show the flag” warships of the military nobility.  Ownership of this class meant that the nobility in question was a major success and could afford these hulls.

For the numbered fleets, battle-cruisers were the fleet escorts of heavier warships such as battleships and dreadnoughts, able to quickly get into position and escape from a dangerous threat as needed.  Built and armored as a “battleship writ small”, the IGSN’s battle-cruisers were more resilient than their Equestrian counterparts, at the loss of some acceleration and agility.  In addition, the hull was ideally suited for the mission of commerce denial and protection, a role that the IGSN named fleets practiced often for any potential war with the Kingdom of Equestria and the Changeling Omnivoracy.

Peregrine-class Battle-cruiser

Built as a “battleship writ small”, the Peregrine-class Battle-cruiser masses at 48,000 tons and 300 meters long, and is built for the commerce protection and denial role that the IGSN considers the battle-cruiser to be essential for.  Armed with four 10cm buster launchers in the bow, six 8 cm buster launchers in the broadsides (in two sets of three), and six Sidewinder­-class anti-ship missile launch cells with sufficient storage to fire eight salvoes of six missiles each, the Peregrine is armed to fight against lighter warships and defeat them easily, while able to run away from heavier opponents. Point defense, armor, and shields are at the standard for battlecruiser-class hulls, with slightly heavier armor than the average.

Like all IGSN warships, the Peregrine-class carries a “short” IGSM battalion, and is the largest ship that can be purchased by the military nobility for the named fleets.

Falcon-class Battle-cruiser

A class built just after the Horizon War, the Falcon­-class incorporates many of the lessons learned in the war. Massing at 51,000 tons and 310 meters long, the class mounts six 10cm buster launcher in the bow, eight 8 cm buster launchers in four groups of two, and six Sidewinder­­-class anti-ship missile launch cells with sufficient storage to fire eight salvoes of six missiles each.  The largest changes in the class have been heavier shields, armor, and better acceleration, giving the class the ability to at least match the acceleration of the RESF Princess Luna-class fast battleship.

The Falcon-class Battle-cruiser is being purchased mostly by the numbered fleets, and it carries a “short” IGSM battalion for ground combat operations.

Eyre-class Squadron Drone Tender

At 49,000 tons and 300 meters long, the Eyre-class SDT is built to carry twenty-four Pinion-class ACVs and rapidly rearm and repair the ACVs in combat.  Armed with four 10cm buster launchers in the bow, the Eyre also carries a dreadnought-class point defense array and a “short” IGSM battalion.  The Eyre-class SDT is deployed with fleets, to provide ACV support when needed.  Almost entirely deployed by the numbered fleets, the Eyre-class served well during the Horizon War.

Vector-class Marine Support Ship

Like the Eyre-class SDT, the Vector-class MSS is armed with only with a bow array of four 10cm buster launchers and heavy point defense.  However, the ship is built and designed to carry a full IGSM battalion, including armor and support systems.  The ship carries a thirty day combat supply for the ground troops, and a full array of kinetic energy weapons, ranging from anti-infantry to saturation strike weapons.

Vector-class ships are almost never seen on their own, and usually are a part of a numbered fleet’s support train.

Ships Of The IGSF-Cruisers

Like the RESF, the Imperial Griffin Space Navy regards the cruiser as the minimum sized hull for independent missions. Unlike the Royal Equestrian Space Forces, the IGSN doesn’t have a dedicated cruiser-sized marine transport hull, relying upon the carried numbers of IGSM troops aboard every Navy warship for ground operations and support of ground objectives.  Ironically, a number of these ships have shown up in pirate hands, especially the lighter Gyrfalcon-class, with a black market for either the anti-ship missiles or replacing the missile launchers with Equestrian-style plasma torpedoes.

Also, like the RESF, the IGSN encountered “teething troubles” during the Horizon War and newer hulls are being built to fill the issues that were encountered.  Older hulls are slowly being cycled out of the numbered fleets into the named fleets, and a few are showing up into “independent” service.

Gyrfalcon-class Light Cruiser

Massing 20,000 tons and 210 meters in length, the Gyrfalcon-class light cruiser is designed and built around filling most of the missions that light cruisers perform. Armed with two 8cm buster launchers in the bow, two 6cm buster launchers in the broadsides, and four launch cells for Viper-class anti-ship missiles, the Gyrfalcon is heavily armed for its weight. The major difficulties of the class is that when the Viper anti-ship missiles run out, the ship loses most of its long range punch against opponents. Armor and defense systems are of standard for the class of ship, as well as secondary systems for combat operations.  The ship also carries a single company of Imperial Griffin Space Marines for ground operations.

The class saw service throughout the Horizon War, and many of the class’s flaws were brought to light during the war. A heavier light cruiser class, the Raven-class, began to be produced after the Horizon War, which addressed these concerns.

Raven-class Light Cruiser

Built after the end of the Horizon War, the Raven-class light cruiser masses at 23,000 tons and 210 meters in length. Armed more heavily than the Gyrfalcon­-class, the ship carries two bow 8cm buster launchers, four 6cm buster launchers in the broadsides, and four launch cells for Viper-class anti-ship missiles. The major improvements of this class were the additional broadside buster launchers and slightly larger launcher capacity (four salvoes of six over three salvoes of six) for the Viper anti-ship missiles. While the class still has the issue of being less effective in combat once the missile cells are empty, the Raven is still a formidable foe in knife-fighting range with its buster launchers. Like the Gyrfalcon-class , the armor and defense systems are standard for the class. The ship carries a single company of Imperial Griffin Space Marines for ground operations and boarding missions.

As the older Gyrfalcon-class ships are bought by the military nobility and older hulls are retired, the Raven-class is replacing them in greater numbers. The Horizon War showed that there were never enough cruisers for the missions that were required, and the Griffin Moot is planning to be ready when they need these hulls.

Eagle-class Heavy Cruiser

At 26,000 tons and 220 meters long, the Eagle-class of heavy cruiser represents the platonic ideal of cruisers in the IGSN thoughts prior to the Horizon War. Armed with two bow 10cm buster launchers, six 6cm buster launchers in the broadsides, and four launch cells for Viper-class anti-ship missiles, the class is designed to win a cruiser duel by superior bow-to-bow firepower and longer engagement ranges for the 10cm buster launchers. The primary issue with this class of ship is that while it carries a fairly large number of missiles (the launch cells are built to handle six salvoes of six missiles each), once the missiles are gone the ship lacks a maneuver denial weapon against hostile ships. In addition, while the simple “slam” power of the 10cm buster launchers is significant, the advantages of two larger weapons over an array of smaller buster launchers wasn’t worth the mass and design penalties. The class mounts armor and defenses in proportion to the ship’s mass, and carries a reinforced company of Imperial Griffin Space Marines for ground operations.

The Eagle-class would begin to be phased out, to be replaced by the Talon-class heavy cruiser after the end of the Horizon War. The class is oddly popular with the military nobility, which likes the class for its heavy weapons fit.

Talon-class Heavy Cruiser

At 38,000 tons and 240 meters long, the Talon-class is the IGSN’s version of the RESF Big Macintosh class, and it fills the same mission role. Armed with four 8cm buster launchers in the bow, six 6 cm buster launchers in the broadsides, and six Viper-class anti-ship missile launch cells, the class is more balanced in terms of weapons than the older Eagle-class. Like the Eagle-class, the ship has difficulties when it runs out of missiles, but the larger number of launchers gives the ship more endurance. The class also mounts heavier point defense stations than other cruisers, which allows for engagement of seeking weapons at longer distances. Like the Eagle-class, the ship carries a reinforced IGSM company for ground operations.

The Talon-class is replacing the Eagle-class, and while the ship is popular within the IGSN, the military nobility has a dislike for the class due to its mimicry of the RESF and their doctrines.