Today we have some more Valbaran-themed fan content commissioned by our friend SpookyRockfall, who you can find on Twitter. This one features a canonical depiction of one of the new Consensus spaceplanes.
The lovely artwork was created by SketchyPigeon, and you can find more of their content on their Artstation and Instagram pages.
The Tzcuauht’li, or Obsidian Raptor in its native Valbaran, is a two-seater close air support craft and light bomber fielded by the Consensus Navy. A recent design, the spaceplane incorporates many technologies sourced from the UNN, and saw its first combat missions during the joint Coalition assault on Kerguela in 2626.
Deployed from Landfall carriers in an offensive capacity, the Raptor is able to leverage its powerful engines and lifting body to glide down into a planet’s atmosphere, carry out its mission, then return to orbit under its own power. The rounded nose, delta-shaped wings, and heat tiles lining the belly of the craft call back to traditional Valbaran aircraft design tenets, the species being a relative newcomer to the Galactic stage.
Human influences can be seen in many aspects of its design, from the EM-absorbing stealth coating reminiscent of the venerable Beewolf, to the hydrogen fuel engines, to the vehicle’s impressive armament. The craft is equipped with a 25mm rotary railgun hidden inside a compartment beneath the nose that is employed to attack targets on the ground. This supplements a payload that includes guided bombs and air-to-surface missiles that descend from racks concealed beneath the fuselage.
Prior to the battle of Valbara, it was hoped that the invading hive fleet could be stopped in space with the help of the planetary defense stations. Even with the assistance of the UNN Rorke and its strike group, the intense fighting in orbit still allowed enemy troops to make it to the ground via drop pod, resulting in running street battles with Bug troops and heavy infantry. Many elite Valbaran units cut their teeth during these engagements, but it was quickly realized that strafing runs by fighters equipped with laser weaponry and dropship door gunners proved wholly insufficient for dealing with hard targets. The performance of strike craft from the Rorke like the Beewolf and Penguin did not go unnoticed either. The program to develop the Tzcuauht’li was intended to fill this gap in the Consensus fleet’s capabilities.
The Tzcuauht’li is crewed by a pair of Valbaran pilots, and often operates in pairs itself, the light strips that run down the craft’s nose allowing for quick communication via flashing color patterns in the usual Valbaran style when not operating in stealth mode.
The small stature of Valbarans, coupled with their excellent memories and reflexes, makes them formidable pilots. Flight suits are usually patterned with blue camouflage, as is traditional for the Consensus Navy, and feature interactive displays that double as color panels for relaying feather signals. They are rated for vacuum to protect the wearer in case of a hull breach or ejection, and they include limited protection against heat and spalling. The legs and tail of the suit can constrict to limit blood flow during high-G maneuvers, which is something Valbaran physiology is already well-suited to, a system of bird-like air sacks supplementing their lungs to give them considerable oxygen reserves. The clamshell helmet has a heads-up display, and the suit’s electronics are able to synchronize with those of the aircraft to relay important information.
Now that the Consensus has its own homegrown fleet, along with the ability to project its power to multiple star systems and theaters of war, the Tzcuauht’li will have a large role to play in future ground engagements.