The Aquila-Class Light Military Shuttle is a slightly-flattened, roughly egg- or manta-ray shaped vessel. While it’s primarily constructed with mortal technology, its essence-based drives provide both lift and thrust regardless of the external environment – allowing both limited underwater and low-orbit operations. Unfortunately, that same reliance on mortal technologies makes these vessels far more vulnerable than the mighty vessels of the first age – but the use of Essence Engines for lift and thrust does allow them to be more heavily armored, and more maneuverable, than common mortal vessels.
Inside, the pilots chair is surrounded by the usual banks of instruments, a set of head-circling screens which show a computer-processed and compressed spherical view with the instrumental data edited in, the usual aviation and weapons controls, sensors, communications gear, and all the other complications of a multifunction military aircraft. The passenger/cargo area (and the tiny bathroom and miniature galley) is strictly utilitarian, but does offer a rear hatch/ramp to allow the rapid boarding or deployment of the passengers, the dropping of cargo (or bombs), and a set of ports which can be opened to allow the passengers to look – or attack – out.
The Aquila is popular with small groups looking for a multifunctional vessel. While they’re not a good match for a dedicated fighter, or bomber, or transport, or scout, they perform creditably in any of those roles. They can defend themselves, deliver small cargos, carry out rescue operations, act as an air ambulance, carry small loads of bombs, and deliver commando strikes.
The fact that they also resemble the classical “flying saucer” is – at least for some characters – an enjoyable extra.
Very similar vessels are in service with some Sidereals, although the production is very VERY limited; by mortal standards this is a high-tech military aircraft, and one with a “classified” drive system at that. Getting the aircraft built is – for once – a lot harder than building the essence-engines and putting minor enchantments on the weapons.
The Autochthonians also use similar vessels – and in far larger numbers. Their limitations mostly lie in their relatively limited population and manufacturing base.
Aquila-Class Military Shuttle (Artifact ****)
- Speed: 425 MPH (Aerospace), 40 MPH (Submerged).
- Maneuverability/Instrumentation/Targeting: +2/+4/+3
- Endurance: Essence Engine attunement cost of six motes. Add +2 motes each to indefinitely power the Atmospheric Life Support, Water Recycling, and VTOL capabilities.
- Crew: 3/1 pilot, 2 optional gunners.
- Cargo: Seven passengers, plus up to five tons of cargo.
- Armor: 15L/15B, Hardness 6 (modern composite armor over titanium airframe).
- Health Levels: Ux8/Mx16/Cx5/Ix4/D (metal plating over titanium airframe).
- Weapons: Two “Light Implosion Bows” (twin Gatling Cannons, right and left arcs), “Medium Implosion Bow” (forward arc Missile Launcher). As modern weapons these each carry enough ammo for ten shots each. As an artifact vessel, gunners may also fuel these weapons with essence at the normal price for appropriate Implosion Bows.
Helmstones (Artifact ****)
Helmstones are escapees from out local Champions games – and are of little use in the classic setting since they’re almost entirely concerned with interstellar travel.
A Helmstone is a massive, spherical, blue-green gem, filled with galaxies of swirling essence-motes in all the colors of the cosmos. It will easily attach itself to any vessel – enhancing it to make it suitable for operation in space.
Helmstone: (Artifact ****. Attunement Cost 6 motes, must be attached to a vehicle to function). The powers it bestows include:
- Spaceworthy: Any air vehicle it’s linked too can both travel in space and go FTL – although this adds +2 motes to the attunement cost if the engines, lifting, and control systems normally require air, and another +2 if they normally require fuel.
- Shields: The pilot may reflexively spend motes to repair the vessel, even while damage is being inflicted. This costs 1 mote per level of damage so repaired up to a maximum of 25 motes – which is sufficient to repair however much damage is needed.
- Scaling: Any air vehicle augmented by a Helmstone and in space will find that it’s instruments, communication systems, weapon ranges, and speed all operate on space, as opposed to planetary, range scales. The pilot may use the Survival skill to navigate normally.
- Bergenholm: The passengers aboard a vehicle using a Helmstone are protected from acceleration effects, including crashes, and always experience normal gravity unless the pilot wishes to let them experience zero gravity.
- Enduring: The pilot may store up to 30 motes within the structure of any vessel with a Helmstone attached. These motes are lost if the stone is detached, must be provided by the pilot, and can only be used to power the Shields and (if any are available) other essence-based ship systems.
- Life Support: Any vessel with a Helmstone mounted on it always has a breathable atmosphere for it’s passengers, even if it’s an ultralight and otherwise open to space.
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