Another 10,000 words, Chapter 19 is done and some of 20.
The US-82 Leadbeater is the UNN’s favored dropship and the workhorse of the fleet, serving primarily in a troop transport and utility capacity. Being designated as a spaceplane, the US-82 is capable of achieving orbit under its own power in as little as fifteen minutes using its twin hydrogen engines, as well as operating in a vacuum through the use of its arrays of thrusters. The airframe has seen a long and storied service over its forty years of operation, and has been adapted into many different variants. These include the US-82C light cargo hauler, the US-82H medevac vehicle, the US-82M spec-ops dropship, and even civilian transport shuttles.
In its primary role as a troop transport, the Leadbeater leverages a blend of high maneuverability and considerable armor to ferry troops and VIPs into contested airspace. These hot drops often involve the rapid insertion or exfiltration of Marines and auxiliaries, requiring the vessel to contend with enemy small arms fire, anti-air, and hazardous terrain.
While it lacks some of the more specialized geometry of its counterparts like the Beewolf, the dropship nonetheless employs an EM-absorbent coating that reduces the likelihood of a successful lock, which is supplemented by a defensive flare system. The armor is reinforced around the cockpit and troop bay to ensure maximum protection for the occupants, and the resilient airframe has earned a reputation as being especially hardy, able to land successfully even after sustaining considerable damage. The ceramic tiles that coat its belly serve both to protect it from the heat of reentry, and as a thermal shield to dissipate the energy of plasma weapons, making it especially resistant to Betelgeusian small arms.
Not being equipped with any offensive weaponry, the Leadbeater will rely on escort craft as the situation requires, often being paired with Beewolf fighters or Penguin gunships to provide close air support around the drop zone.
The reinforced landing gear with its thick tires and protective coverings make the Leadbeater well-suited to difficult terrain, inspired by the bush planes of old. Coupled with a VTOL system that makes use of the vessel’s thrusters, it can set down anywhere that can support its footprint, including forest clearings and rooftops.
The US-82 has the capacity to carry two Marine fireteams of six (a squad of twelve), a pack of six Borealan Shock Troopers, or a pair of Krell Linebreakers. While Valbaran Commandos commonly make use of their own specialized vehicles, the troop bay can seat twelve.
Equipped with a Sentinel upgrade package, the Leadbeater can deploy a rotary electromagnetic cannon that fires the same caliber of slug as anti-material railguns, serving as a door gun and providing support fire for troops as they dismount. This weapon is usually operated remotely by the co-pilot.
This awesome concept art comes courtesy of artist and illustrator Simon Contreras.
Check out more of his work by following the link.
Chapter 18 is done, another 10,000 words. 60% complete.
Chapter 17 is done, another 10,000 words. We’re past the halfway point.
A new class of ship requires a new class of pilot. The Princess caste are bred to perform navigational and computational tasks aboard [REDACTED].
Wild Betelgeusian Queens serve as living flight computers while aboard their hive ships, tapping into the vessel’s organic nervous system to see through its sensors and guide its path between the stars. They are computational marvels, able to calculate trajectories and plot superlight jumps using nothing more than their minds, seeming to possess an innate, intuitive understanding of the arcane mathematics involved.
While still subordinate to Queens, Princesses nevertheless make use of the same wetware that gives them their incredible computational abilities, foregoing any superfluous brain matter that deals with hive management or genetic engineering. They serve as the central computers for [REDACTED]-class ships, connecting to their systems via organic and electronic means that make the vessel an extension of their own mind and body. Aided by a bridge crew, they can react to threats and relay information far more quickly than any automated system, and they are able to make split-second decisions guided by intelligence rather than mere algorithms.
Unlike a simple flight computer, a Princess can also interact directly with the crew to apprise them of important details, appearing anywhere on the ship in holographic form from her throne inside the CIC, deep in the most well-protected decks of the vessel.
As Coalition technologies become more and more closely integrated, these hybrid solutions are required to maximize their potential.
This lovely piece comes courtesy of Malvear.
Chapter 16 is done, 7,000 words. I also added in a museum exhibit section about predation that slipped my mind during writing.
Chapter 15 is done, 5000 words.
Just a heads-up, I’m going to be entertaining family and traveling to a wedding over the next few days. I intend to keep editing, but updates may come at unusual times.
12,000 words, chapters 13 and 14 are done. I’m trimming some of the exposition dump scenes and tightening those up. There’s some cool stuff that isn’t really related to the plot in any way, and that’ll be explored more in future entries.
12,000 words today, chapters 11 and 12 are complete.
Chapters 9 and 10 are done, another 10,000 words. I moved the scene where David accesses Selkie’s terminal and merged it with one of the intranet sections, which should improve the pacing and keep it digestible.