Warship Wednesday–Heavy Cruisers


Usually found chasing down pirates or “showing the flag” in distant corners of the Confederation, heavy cruisers were ostensibly designed to accompany battlecruisers or serve as convoy escorts in time of war.  Prior to 3030, the mere presence of a heavy cruiser within a few hours of FTL travel was enough to deter all but the most foolhardy of pirates.  However, with the rise of the more famous pirate bands (The Crimson Hands, the Screaming Skulls, and the Sons of Lucifer the strongest amongst them) and the destruction of the C.S.S. Brussels, Dresden, and Earheart within a fortnight in 3031, heavy cruisers became increasingly less feared.  It was only after the successes of the Exeter-class (most notably the Vincennes and Skopje), the elimination of the Crimson Hands’ leadership under still unknown circumstances, and the utter crushing of the Screaming Skulls’ home base by a Confederation carrier task force that pirates once more learned to fear the sensor footprint of a Confederation CA closing at high speed.


As Ashley always says, “Context!” (Or would that be “Odin” in this case, Ashley?)  So the terminology of “heavy” cruisers stems from the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922.  TL:DR version–Great Britain was broke, the United States was paranoid, and Imperial Japan felt like they were getting punked at the big boy table.  Ergo, those three nations plus the other victors of World War I all noted the naval arms race between Germany and Great Britain had just maybe played a small (/sarcoff) part in World War I going from “Germany kicks France’s ass again while giving Russia the Heisman” to “Okay, everyone in the Northern Hemisphere to the mosh pit!”  Lots of geopolitics getting glossed over here, but the signatories all came to an agreement that fleets should be limited.  While there are lots of important things that come from this ultimately fruitless exercise, the big one is that cruisers are differentiated between heavy (8-inch guns) and light (6-inch guns) with a size limitation of 10,000 tons.  Lots of hilarity involves, and for those of you are fans of both the Usurper’s War and Vergassy series, you’re aware of most of it.

For those of you who like your aliens without a side of alternate history, here are the three things that make a cruiser “heavy” versus “light” in the Vergassy Universe:

1.) Percentage of protection vs. armament vs. propulsion.  Do I have that ratio figured out?  No, and neither does the Confederation Fleet’s Bureau of Ships.  Oh, and even if I did, the Spartans are going to kind of screw this chicken sideways with their cruisers.  Yes, that’s it, just cruisers.

2.) Function.  Light cruisers tend to be destroyer squadron flagships as well as possess a large number of missiles for dispatching small craft / starfighters / etc..

3.) Independent operations.  Light cruisers tend to be about 75% the size of heavy cruisers.  This affects their ability to go on long cruisers all by themselves due to issues with everything from habitability to an increased risk of being Scooby-snacked by a couple of pirate ships operating in concert.  Look at it as a heavy cruiser is sort of like the Punisher, i.e. even if you brought five of your friends, jumping him would be a bad idea.  Light cruisers, on the other hand, are that guy who was the baddest mofo in high school, but now that you’ve got your frat buddies you’re pretty sure you could take him.

In any case, with Though Our Hulls Burn in production, expect to see a lot of cruiser action.  Remember when we found out a little bit of Mackenzie Bolan’s backstory with regards to his career?  As alluded to above,  you’re going to find out why the Atlanta and her sister ships tend to fold like steel chairs.  It’s not going to be pretty, either.


News! Snippets!

Just a quick post–Collisions of the Damned is in the final stages of post-production as an audiobook.  Hopefully it will be available by Black Friday, with the collection On Seas So Crimson being shortly behind.  If you know someone who would enjoy alternate history but may either have difficult finding the time to sit down with a hard copy book or is visually impaired, the Usurper War is now available as a thoughtful gift.

Also, an additional snippet from Though Our Hulls Burn.  

“So you say he is a rapist?” Agenor asked Commander Taylor, indicating Oliver at the end of the compartment.

“Yes, he was standing Captain’s Mast when we were alerted you had captured the aviso,” Taylor said, raising an eyebrow.

Agenor nodded.  Walking back down the noticeably cooling corridor, he drew his vibro katana.

“Prisoner!” he called to the man hunched in the corner, shaking.

“What do you want?!” Oliver cried, trying to scoot further away from the cell door.  Looking at the enclosure for a moment, Agenor took a deep breath…then punched through the lock with his battle armored fist.  The impact shot the lock and its fragments to the far side of the cell, Oliver screeching in surprise.

“Stand up,” Agenor said, shoving the door open.

“I-I-I didn’t do anything!” Oliver screamed, trying to scuttle away from him.

“I said, stand up,” Agenor shouted.  “If I have to lift you up, I swear you will suffer for it.”

Oliver stood, his eyes fixed on the blue sword, heat shimmers emanating from it as it hissed.

“Tell me, between us men, is your officer lying?” Agenor asked.  “Did you rape that woman?”

Oliver looked at Agenor, trying to meet his eyes through the tinted face shield.

I know he can still see the dried blood on me, Agenor thought.

“We Spartans are a reasonable people,” Agenor continued.  “If it was simply a misunderstanding, you could not help yourself, or she was intoxicated, our justice is more merciful than you are obviously used to.”

“They were going to throw me out an airlock,” Oliver said, his voice less afraid.  “It was simply a misunderstanding.”

Agenor moved with terrible swiftness, Oliver not even having time to flinch before the katana had severed his right arm beneath the elbow.  The man had just enough time to scream and start to reach for the limb before Agenor struck again, this time lopping off the left arm just above the wrist.  Stunned, Oliver fell backwards, screaming in pain as he looked at the two spurting wounds.  He had just enough time to look back up at Agenor before the man struck one last time.  Oliver’s head fell to the compartment’s deck, followed shortly by his crumpling body.  Steam briefly flashed off the vibrokatana as the man’s blood evaporated from its heat.

Resheathing the weapon, Agenor turned back to where Taylor stood between the other two Painbringers.  Her eyes were wide in shock and horror as she looked up at him.

“In Spartan lands, we usually geld a rapist in addition to removing both of his hands,” Agenor said conversationally.  “Does his victim live?”

Taylor looked at him, her mouth working but no sound coming out.  Manipulating his internal controls, Agenor raised his face shield so that he could meet Taylor’s eyes.

“Commander,” Agenor continued, “does his victim live?”

“P-p-probably not,” Taylor said.

“That is unfortunate,” Agenor said.

The deck groaned beneath their feet, reminding Agenor that they were still standing on a ravished hulk being dragged towards a star.

“Take me to your secondary bridge,” Agenor ordered.  “Quickly.”


Though Our Hulls Burn Teaser 2: Meet the Spartans

Well folks, Nano Wrimo has begun.  I’ve broken ground on the sequel/prequel to An Unproven Concept, and here’s the first  bit in rough draft form.

Chapter 1: When Next We Meet

Spartan Man of War (SMW) The Taken Umbrage

0345 Spartan Military Time (SMT) / 0145 Standard Spacefarer’s Time (SST)

Ellylon /Yankee 975  System

15 December 3035


The command console’s sudden beeping in his ear caused Leftenant Ian Campbell to startle in his seat.  While the young Spartan managed to hold onto all of his cards, the sharp upwards motion of his knee caught the edge of the small table set up between The Taken Umbrage’s helm and weapons station.  With a spray of colored chips, cards, and the weapons officer’s ration cubes, the table and its contents floated upwards towards the bridge’s roof.

Smooth move, Campbell, Ian thought, his ruddy face coloring in embarrassment as he stretched for the nearest poker chips.  Catching two, his thumb clipped a third one and sent it spinning towards his face shield in the zero-g compartment.

“I got the chips,” Midshipman Yubani Mendoza said, giggling as the brown plastic piece skipped off the clear front of Ian’s thimble shaped helmet.  “You get the console.”

Taking a moment to watch as Yubani launched herself gracefully after the cloud of poker chips, Ian fought the urge to shout in frustration.

First time I’ve been kicking her ass in five months and the damn console decides to see another ghost, he thought disgustedly.  Hell, first time anyone has been winning poker against her since we came out here.

The console beeped once more, reminding Ian once again what had broken up their mid-watch poker game.  Finishing his chair swivel, Ian pressed his finger into the corner of the cold touch screen.  There was a slight tingle as his suit and the touchscreen exchanged their security handshakes confirming that, yes, indeed the small corvette’s weapons officer wished to interface with the central computer.

I’m not saying that small ship designers are paranoid, Ian thought, but if someone wanted to kill the entire crew I doubt using the central computer would be the method.  Hello airlock, sure I’d like to vent the atmosphere, good day powerplant I’d like to make a su…

The sarcastic space shanty died in his throat as the screen displayed what had interrupted their poker game.

Mother of God, Ian thought, suddenly unable to swallow or even breathe.  Whipping his eyes to the screen’s side, Ian checked to make sure the ship’s computer had not accidentally initiated a training exercise.  Taking a single ragged breath as his eyes told him that, no, The Taken Umbrage’s XO was not playing one of her sadistic tricks, Ian’s mind had one last moment of unabashed terror before his training kicked in.  Turning, he whistled to get Mendoza’s attention just as the younger officer was gathering the final poker chip.

“Midshipman Mendoza, go wake up the Captain, the Executive Officer, and the Chief Engineer in that order,” Ian said quickly and steadily.  “Tell them we have an unidentified contact, course oh nine oh and range 3 AUs relative.  Do not awake any other crew, then report back to your station.”

Mendoza turned to look at him, her brown eyes broadening until the whites were terribly highlighted against her tan skin.

Now, Yubani,” Ian said, gesturing.  Nodding quickly, her face set, Mendoza spun her slight frame and gracefully kicked off the overhead.  Arcing her body, she passed through the bridge’s hexagonal hatch and was gone.

Turning back to the sensor screen, Ian watched as the single blip continued to move from port to starboard of the Taken Umbrage’s facing.  Ellylon system was relatively sparse, its five planets’ orbits all within six AUs of the single neutron star a little over 175 million kilometers behind the corvette’s stern.

‘Where were you when it all went to Hell, Daddy?’ Ian thought quietly.  ‘Oh Princess, Daddy had a front row seat when the shit hit the…

“Campbell, I really hope this isn’t a sensor ghost,” Lieutenant Commander Kirtida Gorman said as she floated onto the bridge.  Still fastening up her suit with her left hand, the Taken Umbrage’s XO rubbed her eyes with the right.  “I was in the middle of a great dream.”

“Ma’am, the contact has changed course,” Ian said, taking a look back at his screen.

Kirtida paled as much as her honey toned complexion would allow.  Narrowing her blue eyes, she swam to the captain’s chair.  Strapping herself in, she reached down and slid the furniture’s heavy readout screen up and over in front of her.  Taking a stylus, she began hurriedly displaying, then rewinding the last five minutes of sensor coverage relayed from the passive buoys at the system’s edge.

“Who did you tell Mendoza to wake up?” Gorman asked, then nodded after Ian relayed the information.  “Good.  Old man’s gonna want to have time to think on this one.”

As if summoned by Gorman’s statements, the Taken Umbrage’s commanding officer was the next to pass through the hatchway.  Waving down Gorman before she could stand, Commander Jung-Hee Song snatched a stray poker chip out of midair.  Continuing into the bridge area, Song tucked his legs up and activated the magnetic soles of his uniform boots.  With a slight metallic clank!, Song’s feet stuck to the deck, allowing him to walk over to Ian’s console.  Standing, he was just barely taller than Ian sitting, but with broad shoulders and a narrow waist that emphasized just how muscular the Taken Umbrage’s commanding officer was.

“Well, that’s definitely not a rogue planet,” Commander Song said quietly as the contact began decelerating, then changed course once more.  “Or a sensor ghost.”

“Looks like it’s going to do an orbit of Fairfolk,” Ian stated, referring to the Ellylon system’s fourth planet.

“Makes sense,” Song replied.  “Only thing that looks remotely habitable.”

All three Spartan officers watched as their unknown contact settled in around the medium-sized planet.  Ian looked from Song to Gorman, both of them keeping perfectly straight faces.  Looking at him past the command screen, Gorman met his gaze levelly.

“A problem, Lieutenant Campbell?” she asked.

“Trying to figure out if I’m the butt of some elaborate prank XO,” Ian said after a moment.  Gorman and Song shared a look, then turned back to him.

“Sometimes there are things one needs to know, Lieutenant,” Commander Song said.  “Then there are things that one needs to just accept and continue doing their duty.  Speaking of which, start to charge the main battery.  With the primary closer to us than them, I doubt the bit of extra energy is going to show up on their sensors.”

“Aye aye, captain,” Ian said, turning back to his console and pressing the necessary controls.  The Taken Umbrage’s sixteen railguns were arranged in broadside mounts, eight to a side.  In rapid fire mode the rail guns could deliver a veritable hailstorm of duranium projectiles each the size of a medicine ball.

Of course, those projectile won’t do shit against anything much bigger than us, Ian thought grimly.  Which is why we have the missiles.  Arranged in four silos that ran the length of the corvette’s centerline, twenty Angon missiles arguably gave the Taken Umbrage the ability to punch far above her 25,000 ton displacement.

“Do we have any estimates on that thing’s size yet, Ian?” Song asked, looking up as Yubani reentered the bridge.  Pushing off the bulkhead, Yubani executed a near flawless midair flip that allowed her to catch the comms / helm seat with her feet.  Folding forward, she braced herself on Ian’s shoulder, then twisted into the seat and strapped herself in.

“No really, people, turn on your magboots,” Song said, chuckling.  “If they can detect that energy at this range through the pulsar behind us, we’re fucked.  Although that was pretty impressive, Midshipman Mendoza.”

Yubani colored slightly behind her face shield, then turned back to her console.  After a moment of looking over at her, Ian did the same.  After a couple of minutes of tense silence, the sensor suite beeping caused them all to jump.

“Contact’s size is estimated at approximately 35,000 tons, three hundred meters,” Ian said, reading the print scrolling next to Fairfolk on his screen.  Touching the screen, he separated his scrolling key from that of the command console’s and zoomed in on Fairfolk.  After a moment’s glitch, he found himself looking at the dark, irradiated rock with the contact’s icon circling it.  With a flare of energy, the contact finished its deceleration and established a geosynchronous orbit around the distant world.

Thank you for becoming relatively stationary, Ian thought.  In a process that seemed painstakingly slow but was likely only a couple of minutes, the sensor buoys used the radiated energy from Fairfolk like a back light in a photo box to paint an outline of the other vessel.  The alien interloper was shaped like an elongated kitchen baster, with the bulb end five times thicker than the rest of the hull.  Opening a smaller window to study the sensor feed of the deceleration, Ian determined that the narrow end was forward, the thicker end aft.

Slightly heavier than us, but there can’t be much protection with a hull that thin, Ian thought.

“Looks like she’s almost all engines, doesn’t she?” Commander Song asked.

Forgot the old man was still standing there, Ian thought.

“Yes, Sir,” Ian replied.  “But I can’t imagine she doesn’t have something to sting with in that hull.”

Song shook his head.

“I imagine this is a reconnaissance ship,” he replied.  “Or an explorer.  I can’t imagine any military vessel coming in that recklessly.”

That was a little careless, Ian agreed silently.

“Sir, do you want to move us out to engage?” the XO asked.  Out of the corner of his eye, Ian could see Gorman leaning forward in the command seat almost like a Kursk Simishark leaning out of the shallows towards prey.

Yep, the unpleasant surprise of a predator with gills, an IQ to rival a Terran orangutang’s, and jaws that can sever a leg, Ian thought.  That about sums up the XO if she had her own ship right now.

“No XO,” Song said, his tone that of a long suffering gang leader having to rein in his favorite hitman.  “Let’s observe our friend for a little bit.  If she comes further in, then we’ll get a look see.”

Gorman’s face briefly showed what she thought of that idea.

“Aye aye, Sir,” she said, her tone even.

“Think about it, XO,” Song said conversationally.  “You saw how quickly she decelerated to get into orbit.  We come out of this pulsar shadow like a bloodhound on crack, that thing just might lead us grabbing vacuum on the way to get some friends.”

Gorman thought about it for a second, then nodded with a slightly sheepish look.

The Umbrage is not a slow ship in sublight, Ian thought.  But it looked like that contact pulled double the deceleration we’re rated for, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.  If the Taken Umbrage had been a human rather than a warship, she would have been best described as “inching towards middle age.”  There were faster and stronger corvettes and destroyers in the fleet…but that was why the Umbrage was on the proverbial picket line and not them.

“That being said,” Song continued, “let’s go ahead and start generating a fire solution for the Angons.  If she comes into system that fast, a barrage to the face might be just the advantage we need to close within railgun range.”

With a press of several more buttons, Ian activated the missiles’ onboard telemetry.  The Angons began to take input from the Taken Umbrage’s sensor relay.  While far, far outside of the missiles’ range even with a ballistic profile, being backlit by Fairfolk allowed the Angons’ sensors to get a good, solid image of what their prey looked like.

Helps not to be fooled by a decoy if you know what the real deal looks like, Ian thought.  Leaving the missiles to do their thing, he turned back to regard the other vessel.

“How long until the Wayward Lich is in line of sight?” Song asked, referring to the Taken Umbrage’s companion patrol vessel.  Ian saw Yubani regard the system map.

“Cynon will be around the primary in ten minutes, Sir,” Yubani replied, referring to the system’s second planet.  After a moment, a blue icon with dashed edges winked into being near Cynon’s moon.

“Here’s to hoping they’re watch was as attentive as ours was,” Song said.

Or that Commander Meeker isn’t as aggressive as Lieutenant Commander Gorman, Ian thought.  The Wayward Lich was a newer, faster vessel than the Taken Umbrage.  If she used Cynon’s gravity to slingshot, she just might have a chance of catching the intruder.

“I take it Midshipman Mendoza continues her unbeaten streak at poker?” Song said, breaking Ian’s concentration.

Ian and Yubani shared a look of mutual embarrassment.

“Lieutenant Campbell was having better luck than most, Commander,” Yubani replied with a slight smile.  Ian saw Gorman raise an eyebrow, the command screen keeping her from the midshipman’s line of sight.

“Interesting.  Well, XO, since you’re already in the chair, I’m going back to sleep until the Lich is in comm laser range,” Song said.  Gorman looked up in surprise, then realized she’d been behind the eight ball pretty much since Song had come into the compartment.

“Aye aye, Sir,” Gorman said.

“No starting interstellar conflicts while I’m gone,” Song continued.  “If she gets within 1 AU, bring us to modified yellow alert.”

“Aye aye, Sir,” the XO said.  To Ian’s surprise, she sounded almost relieved at Song’s instructions.

“Lieutenant Campbell, Midshipman Mendoza has three tells,” Song said over his shoulder while he walked towards the hatch.  “XO can get you the bridge camera files if you’re really interested.”

Ian felt his jaw drop as the hatch closed behind Umbrage Actual.

“Incidentally, Lieutenant Campbell,” Lieutenant Commander Gorman said conversationally, “I didn’t actually break my ex-husband’s leg.  That was the six meter drop to the street.  If you must know, I wasn’t waving at butcher knife either.”

Yubani turned to look at Ian, her eyes wide in horror.  Ian felt the blood rush to his face.

“And it was my sister he was sleeping with, not my superior officer,” Gorman continued.  “Now close your mouth, you’re going to start making your suit wonder why you’re hyperventilating.”

Ian did as he was told, turning back to his console almost in shock.  The Umbrage’s most recent refit had seen several of the cameras added for “damage control purposes.”

They had said the audio features hadn’t been added yet, Ian thought.

“Don’t feel bad,” Gorman stated.  “Lieutenant Drummond apparently believes the rumor that I actually castrated the poor man and made him listen to his balls sizzle in the waste incinerator.”

Ian looked and saw that Yubani was nervously glancing over at him.

Planet awkward, he thought.

“That’s just what I said I was going to do before he jumped out the window,” Gorman said with a laugh.  The sound made the hairs stand up n the back of Ian’s neck.  Before he could start to slouch behind his seat, the console gave yet another sharp tone.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Ian thought.  The contact had broken orbit from Fairfolk and was accelerating.  After a moment, the Taken Umbrage’s computers assigned a vector line to the icon.  Looking, Ian saw that the lengthening line took the vessel to the ecliptic “east” and away from The Taken Umbrage.  As he watched, the line almost doubled in a couple of heartbeats.

Okay, no, not even the Lich is catching that thing, Ian thought.  I really hope that she is unarmed, because weapons plus engines of that power will be a tough out…

“Looks like she’s accelerating to hyperspace,” Gorman said.

“Shall I wake Commander Song?” Ian asked, reaching for his seat buckle.

“What?  So he can increase gravity and slow that thing down?” Gorman snorted.

Before Ian could reply, there was a momentary flash on the sensor screen as the intruder ripped a hole in normal space.  A moment later, the dark maroon of a hyperspace event signaled the contact had left.  Looking at the clock, Gorman’s eyes narrowed.

“No poker,” the XO ordered.  “Talk about home, talk about your first pet, talk about whether the North Americans or the Chinese started the Great War.  But you keep your eyes glued to those screens, and send Mendoza to come get me if anything happens.”

“Aye aye, XO,” Ian and Yubani said in unison.

“Failing that, you wake me up twenty minutes before you wake up the old man,” Gorman continued, unbuckling her belt then activating her magshoes.  “Not a word about the bridge cameras to anyone else, either.  Old man isn’t using them to spy, per se—he’s just trying to figure out who works well together.”

That explains all the watch rotations, Ian thought.

“Aye aye, XO,” he said.  Gorman started heading for the door, then stopped.

“Incidentally, Campbell, how is your ancient Cantonese?” Gorman asked.  “I see you took three years of it as a cadet.”

“Passable XO,” Campbell said, then continued in Cantonese, “I wouldn’t want to give someone instructions on how to dismantle a rail gun with it, but I can manage.”

Gorman gave a knowing smile at that.

“Brush up on it a bit,” she replied.  “Especially phrases you may use in a boarding action.”

With that, Gorman passed through the hatch.  It closed behind her, leaving Yubani and Ian in awkward silence.

“I’m so sorr…” Ian started.

“I didn’t mean to miss…” Yubani said simultaneously.  They both stopped, laughing at the other.

“I get the feeling there’s something they’re not telling us,” Ian said after a moment’s pause.

“Gee, could it have been that very large pachyderm that danced around the bulkheads?” Yubani replied sarcastically, then added a sheepish, “Sir.”

“I wonder what else they’ve heard?” Ian thought, turning back to his console.  Yubani was quiet for a moment, and he turned to see her face starting to blush under her light brown complexion.

“Is there something you’d like to tell me, Midshipman Mendoza?” Ian asked.

“Yes, Sir, my first pet’s name was Mephistopheles,” Yubani replied flatly.

Okay, I’m not going to press my luck, Ian thought.  But if ever I wish I could read minds.

Though Our Hulls Burn… Teaser 1: Tentative Chapter Titles

Part I: On the Nature of Scorpions

Chapter 1: When Next We Meet

Chapter 2: A Grave Error In Judgment

Chapter 3: A Baseball Bat…In the Dark…To the Face

Chapter 4: Lessons Observed…As Opposed to Learned

Chapter 5: Mr. Oppenheimer Gets Prison Swole

Chapter 6: Sledgehammer Resistant Walnuts

Chapter 7: Dead Carl and the Angry Spartans

Chapter 8: A True Compromise

Part II: Honor and Angst

Chapter 9: Along Came The Spider…

Chapter 10: The Golden Fields

Chapter 11: Here There Be Dragons

Chapter 12: The Pirate’s Life For Me

Chapter 13: Good Hunting

Chapter 14: An Abject Lesson

Chapter 15: The Last Full Measure

Chapter XX: Shore Leave

Warship Wednesday–Stalingrad Class

The Stalingrad-class (3045) are intended to be commerce raiders / protectors mounting 15 Class ‘A’ railguns with a Class C maser secondary.  Projected to be a class of 25 BCs, the recent success of the Constitution-class has caused some analysts to ponder if the Stalingrad order will be curtailed to 15 ships or less.


If you’re looking at the date, you’re probably wondering why the Confederation would build two classes of battlecruisers (Constitution and Stalingrad) concurrent with one another?  Simple–the Stalingrads are the hedge against the Constitution-class crapping the bed.  As such, they are built with completely proven, reliable technology.

Keen readers of An Unproven Concept will remember the following scene:

“Engineering, I’m going to need all the juice you’ve got once we start this dance,” Bolan stated.  “Helm, I don’t want to make the same mistake we’re pretty sure that carrier’s about to make.  Once we’re clear of the rocks, I don’t want us holding the same course for more than twenty seconds.  It’d be rather embarrassing to have a Stalingrad outshoot us.”


So what a technology hedge?  Well, it’s not quite like buying a Lexus sports sedan just in case that Ferrari turns into a metaphorical “hangar queen,” but it’s close.  Which, of course, means that if the Ferrari does turn into an “Italian for Yugo,” odds are you won’t buy another one.  Ergo, during the exercises in An Unproven Concept, it is critical that the Constitution at least avoid getting “killed” by the oncoming Stalingrad lest future units be cancelled.  After all, why pay for a highly expensive “hybrid” if the staid plow horse kicks her ass?  This is an added wrinkle that I did not want to overdo, but added for a bit more tension.

Some names for the Stalingrad-class are as follows:


73 Easting















Now as was discussed in the entries for battlecruisers and aircraft carriers, there are two classes of capital ships named for famous engagements.  In the Vergassy Universe, the Bureau of Ships (BuShips) tends to assign names based on the primary venue the engagement was fought in, i.e., carriers receive names based on nautical battles whereas battlecruisers receive those for land fights.




Warship Wednesday–Eggshells With Triphammers


Battlecruisers are allegedly big enough to kill anything they cannot run away from in sublight space, fast enough to run away from anything that can kill them, and capable of wreaking havoc amongst commerce in an interstellar conflict.  BCs are considered capital ships, and are the lightest vessels of this type in the Confederation Navy.  Battlecruisers are named for famous frigates/battlecruisers/battles, with the title chosen usually reflecting the cultural origins of the Confederation sector constructing the ship.  It is not unheard of for multiple vessels to be named for the same battle, e.g. Falklands and Malvinas both commemorating the 1982 War, or for multiple engagements that occurred in the same location.***

Battlecruisers will be “bastard stepchildren” through most of the Vergassy novels. Think of battlecruisers as your 6′ 2″, slightly pudgy friend Billy Crain (BC) who lifts weights casually and is a brown belt in some martial art that emphasizes using leg strikes to quickly end a fight.  BC can break a stack of bricks with his axe kick, so he is easily capable of beating up that single drunk surfer dude who grabbed his wife’s rear end in some out of the way California dive bar.  However, Billy is in serious trouble if he’s jumped banana style by that asshole’s three friends in the parking lot while walking said spouse to the car.  We won’t even get into the hospital stay that occurs if BC is caught by Mr. Surfer Dude’s roid monkey twin brother, Biff Brown, a.k.a. “BB.”

In other words, prudent battlecruisers use their speed and intersystem agility to get the hell away from the other capital ships, avoid getting engaged outnumbered, and stand off at range to pummel cruisers with their heavier main batteries. Imprudent battlecruiser captains sometimes forget that even a “Lion” (yes, that’s a historical pun) must fear a coalition of cheetahs.  Not that BCs are often by themselves–BC crews often bitterly remark their vessels are sent “when it’s important enough to require a battleship and serious enough that carriers are too scared to go alone.”  With the advent of the Constitution-class, it is expected that these vessels will be capable of conducting independent actions in and of themselves rather than simply tagging along with a flat top.  Which is a nifty thought, but old habits die hard, and often a flat top will have a battlecruiser parked off a quarter ready to “sacrifice itself for the queen” as a battleship or battleships is giving chase.

It’s not a spoiler to say that at present there’s no Hood vs. Bismarck moment in the Vergassy Universe thus far.  This does not mean it’s not coming.  (Poor Lancelot Holland…five more minutes is all he likely needed.)  As will be discussed in Though Our Hulls Burn, the Spartan Navy also has BCs, albeit with an eye towards towards commerce raiding rather than protection.  This may lead to with some interesting results with regards to timing, ranges, and engagements at a couple of critical points in the upcoming story.

Speaking of the Hood, anyone familiar with my Usurper’s War series knows I’m not necessarily a fan of battlecruisers.  I’m not saying that Jackie Fisher was an idiot, but as Eric Cobb notes in Acts of War, battlecruisers + battleship guns = bad things.  I think it was just as well that technology managed to make actual BBs faster in the original timeline, as these vessels do not tend to survive long when wargaming out fights circa 1942-1943.  All too often, something like the picture below happens even if a “golden BB” does not.  😦


Warship Wednesday–Battleships


Maulers. MoWs (Manifestations of Wrath).  Death Castles.  While the Carrier faction speaks of their ability to destroy entire systems, Line officers point out that battleships have actually gone out and done it.  Although not impervious to modern weapons, the “Grand Bitches of the Fleet” are the celestial equivalent of a hungry Kodiak showing up at a youth group campground with a wolfpack (the escorts) in tow.  Named for famous battleships, colonies, fictional or actual planets, Terran nations, oceans, regions, rivers, bodies of water, and mountains.

When I think of battleships, I think of vessels that are the proverbial “slow but powerful.” Like an 8-bit video game boss, BBs are going be the entities that break things with a casual backhand.  In the Vergassy Universe, main battery hits from a BB are going to absolutely wreck smaller vessels, while even battlecruisers and carriers are going to think twice about staying to slug it out.  As far as protection goes, BBs will not crack open very often, as roughly 30-45% of their hulls will be towards some facet (e.g., armor, point-defense, ECM) of defense.

All that being said, much like historical BBs, those in the Vergassy Universe will have their vulnerabilities. Like a swarm of yak killer hornets, an entire air group can destroy unescorted battleships.  Smaller craft, if capably handled, can and will manage to do damage even if their own casualties are horrific.  Finally, the proverbial “Golden BB” is always a possibility, even if cordite magazines are a thing of the past.   A rail gun through the inertial dampeners at the same time missiles drop the backup means a crew is paste even if the hull is largely intact. Artificial gravity going in the middle of a multi-g maneuver?  Yes, that’s going to leave a mark as everything not bolted down starts ricocheting around crew areas.

In any case, it’s not a spoiler alert to say that when battleships show up, things just might be about to go down.


Pinnace2 1600x1500
Vesuvius and Etna (Jon Holland)



Warship Wednesday–Ark Royal Class

Welcome Chris Nuttall readers. Please check out the front page: https://vergassy.com


The Ark Royal-class are the largest and most modern supercarriers in the Confederation Navy.  First projected to carry a full air group of 3 fighter and 3 attack squadrons, the air group’s composition was changed in 3051 to 2 fighter, 2 attack, and 2 mecha squadrons.

Ships in the class are as follows:

Ark Royal










Bonhomme Richard







When naming the carriers for the Confederation Fleet, I’ve gone far and wide for “battles most Westerners may have never heard of.”  The Confederation is basically a polygot of the Earth’s current nations.  Odds are someone from the Eurasian Sector is not going to care too much about Sharpsburg, while the Anglo-Saxon shipbuilders aren’t going to go into obscure Korean conflicts looking for inspiration.

The reason I chose Ark Royal for the class-name was my friends’ Mekton campaign revolved around a mecha carrier of that name.  The one and only time the GM allowed me to play the OPFOR, I damn near killed her.  (“James, the point of the exercise is to give them a struggle, not kill them all.”  “Then they should have thought about their strategy more.”)  To quote the centaurs in an online game I play, “I promise a painful end…“.

Of course, now that Chris Nuttall has a sci-fi series of the same name, everyone will think I’m taking a swipe at him.


Warship Wednesday–Carriers


Confederation Fleet carriers are commonly known as “The Fist of the Fleet.”  Typically carrying 3-5 squadrons of Starfighters, usually escorted by an additional capital ship or formed into strike groups of 2-3 “flattops,” modern supercarriers are capable of laying waste to entire star systems by themselves.  All carriers are horrifically vulnerable during their launch and recovery stages due to the limitations of their catamaran hulls and typically do not carry extensive offensive missile or secondary batteries (see “that’s what the escorts are for”).  Carriers are named for old carriers, battles, and vessels in history and science fiction.


What’s In A Name?

So, as noted by The Prolific Trek, your humble narrator went to go see Star Trek: Beyond (Note: Spoilers) with the better half and a group of friends as a break from his *censored* dissertation.  It was a needed break–I feel the urge to be snarky in response to some differing points fading to a dull roar.  Editing–it’s not for the faint of heart.

What struck me as I was watching the movie was the writer/writers’ name choices for vessels in the film.  Besides the titular Enterprise, there was the space station Yorktown and a U.S.S. Franklin.  The historically astute will note that, in order, these names are the most decorated carrier in World War II, the lead vessel of the USN’s famous carrier class (of which Enterprise was part), and the most damaged USN carrier of the entire war.  Suffice to say, in the case of the Franklin, the name choice was apt.

This got me to thinking about sci-fi vessel name choices in general.  Some are pretty much oddball acronyms–see SDF-1 from Robotech / Macross and the TARDIS.  Others appear to have simply been chosen out of a hat (e.g., Galactica or Millenium Falcon) or are clear references to mythology (Pegasus, Prometheus).  In any case, it would be interesting to have a round table or panel at a con where folks discuss what ship names and why.

As for myself, starting this week there will be “Warship Wednesday” in which I explain my own naming conventions for the Confederation Fleet and Spartan Republic, discuss various ship classes, and otherwise unpack the Vergassy Universe a little bit.  Every few Wednesdays (no I’m not committing to a regular schedule), I will intersperse historical warships from the Usurper’s War universe as well.

Happy reading!