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Ship Focus : Luciole Interceptor

Type: Dedicated combat vessel.
Original manufacturer
USRE naval shipyards. Produced under license by the Eloran Ekumen, Laniakea and Algorab.
Current pattern status
Well-controlled license.
High-acceleration fusion drive.

Armament: Offensive laser grid (all models), 2 external missile hardpoints (Mk1), 4 internal missile hardpoints (Mk2), 4 hardpoints or UREB spinal mount (Mk3).
FTL capable: Yes.
Length: 150 meters.
Payload: Up to 200 tons in ammunition.
Crew: Up to 8.
Passengers: None.
Also known as the Matchbox, the Flight Stick, the Angry Firefly.

The Luciole ("Firefly") combat vessel was the first dedicated FTL combat vessel. Still in use today, it embodies the modern style of space combat, based on FTL missiles and tactical mobility.

 Upon the discovery of the geometry drive, the USRE was the first polity to conduct a serious study on faster-than-light combat vessels. This study led to a classified memoir, the Falkland Report, which outlined the specifics of a speculative FTL-capable combat vessel. Far from the massive, hulking combat vessels of the interplanetary age, this ship would be a small vehicle, favouring computing power and missile weaponry over lasers and raw sublight speed. A vessel that would "dance around the battlefield", in the words of the Falkland Report, translating in and out of weapons range to avoid return fire. Many powers had come to the same broad conclusion, including the Moon Communes, but the USRE was the first polity to actually implement the idea and build such a vessel.

The first Luciole Mark One left the Kenyan Orbital Shipyards roughly one century ago. It was unlike anything seen beforehand. A slick vessel, armed with FTL missiles, whose thin frame was made of nothing more than radiators, a powerful fusion drive, a high-frequency geometry drive and a cramped crew section. It owed more to the jet fighters of old than to the slumbering giants of its time, geared towards a form of warfare that had yet to be seen in space: high mobility, low resilience combat. Much like the tank or the original Dreadnought, the Luciole immediately made all extant combat vessels obsolete. The Luciole immediately triggered a new arms race, though the vast majority of its competitors were basic derivatives of the "angry firefly". Almost a century later, the Luciole remains the single most widespread combat vessel in human space, both in state militaries such as the USRE's High Fleet and in paramilitary outfits. Constantly updated and refitted, the Luciole is expected to remain in active service for the decades to come. 

When the Luciole Mk1 entered service, it was effectively impossible to counter on the battlefield -- their main opponents were hastily refitted fission cruisers, unable to keep up with the teleporting vessel. A century later, the ship is not the "queen of the stars" it once was, but remains a solid choice for space-to-space combat. The Luciole is primarily armed with missiles, stored in ammunition bays that may be complemented by external hardpoints. Two mid-section rings bear laser grid emitters used for point-defense and close range combat. The rest of the ship is filled by a fusion drive and a powerful CPU section, cooled by four radiators. The crew is lodged between the propulsion bus and the first laser ring, in rather spartan conditions -- the Luciole is not a very liveable vessel, closer to a 21st century bomber than a navy submarine in terms of habitability. The Luciole cannot withstand a direct missile hit: when battlestations are called, the ship's tubular bridge is sealed, ready to act as a self-contained escape pod.

It's worth noting that while military crews do not overflow with love for the Luciole, shipyard mechanics greatly enjoy the vessel's modularity. It takes less than an afternoon to break a Luciole open and access its innards, thanks to a clever system of joints and neatly self-contained subsections. It is even possible to perform "field transplants" on two disabled Lucioles, swapping their components to obtain a working vessel out of two drifting wrecks.

The USRE High Fleet currently uses the Luciole Mark Three, the state-of-the-art version of the Interceptor, while most of the old Mark Two and Mark One have been either mothballed, dismantled or disarmed to be put on the civilian market as racing vessels and messenger ships. Laniakea operates a custom version, the Hornet Interceptor, that includes orbit-to-surface capabilities, while the Moon Communes have their own brand of Lucioles, trading the fusion drive for a high-power Selene Engine. Algorab, confronted to Sequence vessels in the Serene Sea, bought a few Lucioles to equip them with spinal UREB (ultra-relativistic electron beam) mounts used to engage non-human vessels at very close range, under ten thousand kilometers. Finally, a few mothballed Mark Ones have somehow found their way into the Smyrnian Bubble as "Luciole Gunships", armed with makeshift dumbfire weaponry. 


Illustration courtesy of Lilly Harper, who writes most excellent sci-fi prose on the Beacons in the Dark blog.

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