Campaign of the Month: June 2014
Battletech : The Farscape Campaign
Former DropShip of the "Star Talon" Pirates
“The Star Talon” – Vulture-Class Dropship
Type : Spheroid (Military)
Tonnage : 3500 tons
Length : 75.5m
Height : 75.5m
Width : 71.0m
Crew : 14 (8e, 3p – 3 Gunners) 378 Passengers (10 Mechanized Platoons, 12 Light Vehicles).
Skeleton Crew : Bridge 1p+1e; Engine 1e+1e
Cargo Complement : 10 Mechanized Platoons, 12 Light Vehicles, 800 tons.
Bay 1 : Vehicles (12 Light Vehicles) – 1 Door
Bay 2 : Infantry Bay (6 Mechanized Platoons) – 2 Doors
Bay 3 : Infantry Bay (4 Mechanized Platoons) – 1 Door
Bay 3 : Cargo Bay (800 tons) – 1 Door
Life Boats : 20
Escape Pods : 7
Armament : 5 AC/5s, 6 LRM-15s, 4 MLs.
Ammunition : 14 tons of AC/5 ammo, 24 tons of LRM ammo.
Drive System : 4 Dragon Starlight V450 Engines :
Heat Sinks 78 :
Thrust : 6
Overthrust : 6
Structural Integrity : 9
Fuel : 6 Thrust-Points (2.82 tons per Burn-Day) :
First Introduced : 2312
Hull Laid Down : 2427
Armor Factor (16 points per ton : 27.5 tons) :
Nose – 145 : 3 AC/5s, 2 LRM-15s
Front Right Side – 115 : AC/5, ML
Front Left Side – 115 : AC/5, ML
Aft Right Side – 115 : AC/5, 2 LRM-15s
Aft Left Side – 115 : AC/5, 2 LRM-15s
Engine – 98 : 2 MLs
Developed by the Alliance of Galedon (before the advent of the Draconis Combine) to support Lord Shiro Kurita’s expansionist policies, the Vulture was considered invaluable by troops under Warlord Urizen Kurita’s command. The dedicated troop transport proved decisive in the early campaigns against the Ozawa Mercantile Association, the Principality of Rasalhague, and numerous independent worlds. The lightning attacks helped advance the Warlord’s powerbase as the nascent Combine continued to expand.
Originally meant to be carried internally by pre-docking collar JumpShips, the Vulture had littel space for anything more than the cramped quarters for six platoons of infantry and a company of light vehciles, the Vulture decidedly lacked any amenities. The four Dargon Starlight V450 engines, power plant, and starframe, however, have proven their low maintenance requirements, reliability, and durability time and again. A prime example can be found in the Vulture found abandoned on Algedi in 2612 (its crew long since dead from a local virus) that was easily restored to flying condition despite sitting half-submerged in a swamp for nearly 115 years.
Over time, the Vulture fell into disfavor with the DCMS, which began to prefer higher-capacity, more voluminous transports that were designed for the escalating conflicts of the Age of War and to be carried externally on JumpShips. Because of limited space, Combine companies had to be split between two seperate ships; recombining the split units proved difficult under fire. After several inglorious defeats where the defending forces encircled the Combine landing zones and destroyed infantry battalions piecemeal, DCMS commanders began to only carry complete copanies of four platoons aboard the Vultures when making combat landings. Additionally, the Vulture is incapable of carrying the heavier combat vehicles now favored by the House armies as conflict escalated.
Despite these limitations, the Vulture design was copied extensively, especially in the Capellan Confederation. The introduction of the more flexible Seeker, however, led to the end of the Vulture’s House service. A large number of the decommissioned ships were sold-off to mercenary and Periphery markets, and some venerable versions of this vessel are still in use in the modern era as converted commercial shipping vessels. Parts for these vessels remain rare, however, so most Vultures are repaired with “close enough” pieces. The most well known Vulture is the Samhain in service with the Devil’s Brigade of House Kurita. This vessel has survived the years but bears the mark of its centuries of use and combat; it recently, however, took down a Union-Class DropShip raider in a close-fought duel, and its crew continues to serve the Combine with loyalty and dedication.
The “Star Talon” is a venerable member of this historic class of DropShip. Laid down in 2427 as the “Burning Blade”, the ship was used through the foundation of the Star League, and into the Reunification War where it fought with the DCMS Auxiliary Corps (12th Galedon Regulars). Present during the Santiago Massacre, the ship was used to intercept smugglers, and was modified to facilitate boarding operations. It was very successful in these actions, and was nicknamed “The Star Talon” at this time; a name which just stayed popular. The vessel converted its internal structure to contain portable airlocks, and turned one of its cargo bays into a rough prison facility, complete with a watch-station and an armory. Due to the long periods of time the ship spent in space, it also often carried large amounts of food rations and water tankage was improved.
The vessel was deemed surplus in 2742, and was assigned to the Draconis Combine Port Authority, serving in the Galedon Prefecture where it became a popular vessel for prisoner transfers across the Rimward regions. During one such transfer, the prisoners mounted a successful revolt, and seizing both the Star Talon and its attendant JumpShip, jumped off into the Periphery and history.
Over the past centuries, it has been suspected as being used by various pirate raiders all along the borders of the Periphery regions, and has been sighted along the Outer Sphere, ranging into the Hyades Rim on occasion. It has served with various pirate bands, but eventually became the property of the Star Talons during their formation as pirates. Keeping the name, the troopers of the Star Talons managed to work with a Leopard-Class CV and its complement of six (6) AeroFighters, and eventually bagged a Monarch-Class DropShip, a luxury liner stuffed with wealthy tourists and travelers. Selling the ship and much of their loot, the group bought the The Starlight Seduction, and with their rise in fame, gained a wealthy patron who supported them with gold, spare parts and supplies if they would hit select targets. Two missions later, they were wealthy and had attracted a full roster of pirates willing to do what was needed to get the job done. They met the * “The Iron Dingoes” during their third assigned mission, and everything fell apart…
The Star Talon has been modified from its original intent, to become a customs cutter, specializing in boarding operations. Powerful enough to deal with most ships its own weight class, the Star Talon’s weapons were untouched and its armor remains intact. The vessel still bears the ancient, pock-marked markings from its time as a Draconis Customs Vessel; rusted black with crimson highlights, and only its former logo of a flaming skull and crossed sabres of a star pirate., has been painted over with the Iron Dingoes trademark crest.
The Star Talon is broken into multiple decks throughout its hull, stacked one upon the other. The top-most contains the docking collar, avionics, forward weapons-bay, communications gear and reserve batteries. Below this lies the crew deck, holding a crew mess, waste recycling, the laundry, life support systems, equipment storage, the bridge, ammo, food storage, and a small combat operation center. The next two decks are identical, holding barracks in three sub-bays each with space for a platoon of infantry. Each sub-bay consists of multiple triple-tiered bunks, with small personal-gear lockers at one end of the room. Each deck has a single shared washroom facility. Also, each troop deck has a small room set aside to hold its company officers, along with a couple spare bunks for unit specialists or other passengers. Each troop deck also has an airlock/door that has been modified to include a collapsible polymer airlock.
A portion of the cargo bay has been rebuilt to hold four mechanized infantry platoons, providing quarters similar to the others built in the DropShip, though they have been equipped with special vehicle bays to maintain any APCs the individual units might deploy.
In the middle section of the ship is a tall 1000 ton cargo/vehicle bay, with a central 600 ton portion holding twelve (12) light vehicle bays. An additional two bays are located on either side, one serving as a small prison holding facility, and the other a small medical bay. A large elevator occupies the center of the cargo bay, allowing access through the lower levels, and into the ship’s access ramp that exits between the ship’s landing gear. This elevator and ramp are the only means of getting vehicles and cargo from the ship to the planet’s surface.
The prison facility is modified to hold 20 high-security prisoners, with a secure check-point, a small armory (with a bunk area for three), and a small mess facility to prepare traditional food ration meals for prisoners. The remaining space consists of a secure section for 20 tons of cargo, that is used to hold equipment and tools in various lockers and chest bolted to floor and bulkheads. On the opposite side of the deck, lies the simple medical facility, capable of treating only one trauma case, and three long-term patient cases. This facility also has a small mess facility, a small suite set-aside for a medical squad of three, and 20 tons of cargo space for medical supplies and food rations, located in secured lockers and chests, similar to the prison facility.
The lower levels of the ship are several decks dominated by the ship’s landing gear machinery, its aft weapons bays, and the ship’s four V450 drives, which have independent fusion plants. Intended to allow maintenance of the ship’s drives with three active while one is down for repair, they are very efficient and capable of great speed in need (typically running at 2Gs standard cruise, or 3Gs at flank). The ship’s access ramp is nestled between the landing gear, and travels back to a large elevator in its core decks, that grants access to the ship’s cargo/vehicle bay.
The ship’s two infantry access doors are dominated by their Portable Airlocks. Each of these are a single module consisting of a reinforced polymer airlock, atmospheric controls and lock-cycling machinery. These airlocks can be set-up in two minutes by trained personnel, where the airlock’s polymer cells inflate to seal the area between the Star Talon’s hull and an opposing vessel. The airlocks are large enough to allow two troopers to deploy out of them each time they cycle, using a simple zipper-seal system to maintain its air pressure. If a proper connection can be formed and the Vulture is able to hold steady, a solid (if temporary) seal can be established to allow an entire platoon to deploy aboard an opposing vessel in one minute.
The Star Talon was employed by the Star Talon pirates as a boarding vessel, but it still provided long-term housing for more than a full complement of infantry platoons. The result was a crowded, filthy mess in all the barracks sub-bays, and even the crew quarters. Several “Elsies (LCs)”, or “Labor Crews”of the Star Talons enslaved civilians have further increased the life support demands of the ship, damaging them near to the breaking point from the constant demands. There remains a few missing access panels and sometimes the air circulation equipment bears the remnants of its previous damage, but over-all, the ship has been well-cleaned and most of its grime has been removed. The barracks areas near the boarding air-locks, however, remain battle-scarred and streaked with carbon-scoring from laser rifles. Technically, the ship is still in good operating condition, having received regular maintenance by its crews and ample parts from its maintenance cycles.
The Star Talon is commanded by Commander Andre Wallingsford, whose loyalty to the unit is without question. He leads a mixed collection of civilian and pirate engineers and lesser officers, and depends heavily on Senior Tech Ralston Allen, to keep the lower ranks in engineering in line. Under Iron Dingoes control, the unit’s MPs from the Internal Security Group of * “The Cerberus Command”, have taken-over the prison facility, one of the troop bays for their personnel, and several of the vehicle parking slots in the cargo bay. The various “Starguards” personnel from Cerberus Command (and their dependents) are formally based from these bays as well, storing their personal effects and excess equipment in the barracks, as well as the “Militia” forces found in Cerberus. All have begun to think of the ship as their home, (particularly their dependents). Several of the Reserve Paramedic Squads from * “The Dingo Pack” also base themselves from the small medical bay on this ship.