Though the aerial forces of the Adelian nations are still burgeoning, with perhaps a two or three new ships accepted and incorporated every few years, Airships are still an important part of the military force, if not yet civilian life. For most folk, a ride in an airship is a novelty of a few hour’s time – the thought of being trapped in one for days as it flies across a nation is too strange and unproven. While some airships serve niche mercantile interest, such as delivering perishable goods faster than through land, to places where they will sell optimally, civilian and mercantile life is largerly earth or seabound.
But ever looking toward new frontiers, Vedaria commissioned the Guardian class P.A.S (The People’s Airship) ‘Liberator’ destroyer in P.C. 2002, and ten years later it is as advanced as it has always been (largely because technology in Adel advances at a snail’s pace). Its crew of airborne infantry and specialists grow accustomed to life in the air, and hope to help all sorts of new recruits, as well as civilian passengers during their yearly exhibition flights, to shed their fear of the air.
Frame And Layout
Most Adelian airships resemble, to a fanciful eye, a mast-less sea vessel sailing upside-down. The Liberator’s overall shape recalls to the mind the hull of a vessel now turned to face the sky. The port and starboard are pleasantly curved and the ship has a sleek appearance compared to the more ponderous capital ships, but is not as small or fast as cruisers. The bow slopes gently, and an obvious hatch in the front can slide to the reveal the main “100-Ore” (45 kilogram or 100 lb or so) cannon. The stern is flat save for the almost abstract-looking Kinetic Arrays, a few of which also adorn the underside and the sides of the bow for momentum and braking power. Its flanks boast portholes and grenadier slits and cannon hatches. Very little adorns the flat deck except a few forlorn-looking cannons, wooden pillboxes and side rails for staving off boarding attempts.
The ship has two major internal tiers, each with a few different areas. The top level has the grenadier and cannoneer barracks, and other basic facilities such as a bath and kitchen, as well as a temple to Inunkuru (the favored Greater Spirit of Vizier Magdalena Keehl). Other spirits can of course be worshiped at that temple, and there are prayer spaces already laid out for spirits of community, travel, warfare and wind. The bottommost hold is the largest and includes the war room, officer quarters, storage, as well as the main arcane chemical engines, the force of which is relayed to the kinetic arrays around the ship, which produce lift, breake and thrust. Munitions are kept near the very center of the vessel, protected from stray shots – though anti-aircraft fire directed at the hull from below can strike into the munitions room and cause incredible damage.
The Liberator has a large cannon as its main gun, intended for all purpose bombardment using heavy shells, and few smaller port and starboard guns, and some top guns. For bombing as well as the deployment of airborne troops, it has a bottom hatch from which soldiers and ordinance can be dropped. The broadside cannons can also, with some planning, be fired at the ground. It has a stock of emplacement weapons as well, which fired from hatches at the ground can cause some damage, such as arrowlances and crank-action bowguns, both firing steel bolts, and rocket-tipped dragonstrike lances.
The Liberator has a layer of metal on its exterior, but it is mostly wooden. Most airships are built this composite way, because a wholly metallic ship is still too much strain on the current arcane engines. And at the rate Adelians agree to test new engines, much less actually agree to their widespread use, it could be a long time before a completely metallic vessel flies. Ample stocks of water, a few mages, and sometimes a guardian spirit, are kept at hand for emergencies.
The Crew of the Liberator
Below are notable examples of the important and not-as-important folk aboard the Liberator. The crew has a contingent of Grenadiers to serve as Airborne Infantry, along with a small logistics staff and engine crews.
Captain Akua Nthanda: Captain Nthanda was chosen as captain of the Liberator since before its construction, and he watched the vessel grow within the womb of Vedarian’s mid-desert airship yards. Before becoming an airship captain, he was a naval captain, and distinguished himself in the southern sea campaigns against unruly pirates, capping off his career in a devastating assault on a small island, pirate-held, serving as a haven for all manner of scum. Airships presented a new and challenging world for Nthanda to conquer. Though as a Damakran he was more at home in the sea, Captain Nthanda might as well grow wings, for how comfortable the sky feels to him. Excellence in all actions, and a careful advance to new frontiers – that is the Vedarian way, and Nthanda keeps it in his heart. Though seemingly brusque in manner, he is understanding, and tries to be a mentor and inspiration to the men and women in his service (or as he calls them, the boys and girls).
Nthanda is a tall, equal parts brown and white-skinned, broad-shouldered lionfish Damakran in his early 40s. His short hair is dyed a pale red, and no facial hair to speak of like most Adelians. His lionfish markings are his mixed coloration, and boasting a few soft and harmless vestigial “quills” sprouting from arms where most Damakran have their vestigial fins. His ears still have vestigial fin cartilage. He wears breastplate-armored officer’s uniform with many decorations, and the hat of the Vedarian captain, bearing the encircled fist symbolizing the people’s revolutionary forces.
First Mate Lt. Olivia Sengupta: Olivia is the understanding but firm First Mate, second in command in the ship. Her duty is to oversee the crew. Their performance, health and discipline is her responsibility. Lt. Sengupta is a bit of a wild card. The only thing she is consistently stringent on is contraband (though she is also notoriously bad at finding it) and gambling. For other requests she may be compassionate or tyrannical as the mood strikes her. In reality, part of her strategy for dealing with the crew is to keep them guessing – she doesn’t want to be pinned down as “the nice First Mate” or “the nasty First Mate.” She has been with the Liberator for two years, since the untimely death of the last First Mate during the Ghedanian civil war. Before joining the air force, she was a Landship (tank) Commander, giving orders to armored crews from her Sabertiger Command Variant landship (tank). She is a tall, sprightly, broad-shouldered Iomadi woman with dark, long curly black hair and caramel-colored skin. She has dark eyes, wears sturdy box-frame glasses for reading and tends to wear dark red lipstick. Her Iomadi markings are derived from a desert fox, and are brown-orange furred ears and two long, bushy tails.
Pioneer-Corporal Gita Gavarasana: Gita is a young Iomadi known for always smiling, probably because he’s always got some scheme or some joke going on. He is beloved by the other infantry not only for his flirtatious and fun-loving nature, but because he is the ships’ contraband salesman. Though barely average as a soldier, Gita has several other talents and he often manages to smuggle aboard literature, consumables and other things not authorized for use in the military, when procuring pioneer (engineer) supplies. For his contraband, he trades anything from spare bullets to candied ginger to favors of all kinds from his fellow air infantry, and sometimes from the logicians and engine crews. It is often remarked of him that it is a ritual occurrence for “new fish” on the ship to be infatuated with him. His blonde hair is styled in a bob, cut shorter on the back than the sides. His skin color is fairly light and he is slim-figured even compared to the average Iomadi.
Grenadier-Private Kyukuu Mehta: Sometimes made fun of for his silly-sounding name, Private Mehta is a new face on the Liberator, and often sick to his stomach. He is a Droemedae, but was born outside of their Hives, so he’s a bit more expressive (though not by much) and not as germaphobic. Due to the general state of him, he was assigned to sit in the munitions room and use the conveyor box to lift up munitions when necessary. He has developed sort of an obsession over munitions counting. Private Mehta always liked counting things, and counting munitions serves just as well. On any given day he can tell you precisely how much of each type of ammunition is left, a somewhat useful ability. He has short pinkish hair and eyes of a similar color. His teal-colored antennae are often twisted like little screws. As with most Droemedae, he looks quite feminine, and with everyone wearing similar uniforms it can be hard to tell his sex. He is rather pale most of the time.
Grenadier-Private Calipha Yeboah: Known for her remarkable accuracy, Private Yeboah is an athletic Iomadi woman assigned to Cannon #5 on the starboard broadside, right in the center. Her duty is to position the cannon on the cannon mount, using the levers, spyglass and the guiding plates, and then to fire it. Though she is tall and strong enough to easily do all the work herself, it is military regulation to have a gunner and a loader for every cannon. She often finds her loaders to be slow and teases them. She starts betting pools when battle is expected then keeps shot scores during battle, for which she is often disciplined by the First Mate. Regardless, Yeboah often wins and keeps items bet in these competitions such as spare uniforms, candied ginger (one of the few sweets that work well on long air tours), and lewd literature of various tastes (which she hides). She has tan skin and brown hair cut fairly short, as hair that was too long would sometimes get singed during cannon jams and would look out of sorts. Her spirit markings are a badgers’ short black and white ears, and a stubby badger tail.
Cherubim-Explorator Afua Chahine: Afua is a 16 year old girl on the cusp of acquiring full status as a Seraphim. As part of Sargasso and Vedaria’s good relationship, which manifests in their cultural, economic and strategic exchange programs, Afua was seconded to the People’s Air Force when she was 14. She partook in the Cressian Civil War as an airborne soldier and distinguished herself in her service. She comes off as wanting to seclude herself or being antisocial, speaking very little and meditating often. In reality she is very shy, and homesick for her convent and her fellow Cherubim and Seraphim. By cloaking herself in the guise of an inscrutable, serious ace soldier, she can hide her melancholy.
As a Cherubim, she has her own equipment given to her by her convent, which she maintains herself, including her Arrowlance and her angelic armor – a polished and ornate breastplate along with shoulder guards, vambraces and greaves. She wears a robe beneath this armor, as Cherubim do. She has light brown skin and her dark hair is cut in a shoulder length bob like that of most Cherubim, who are only allowed to grow their hair out when they have successfully become Seraphim, and are considered women rather than girls. She is a dog Iomadi, her ears being upright and fluffy, her tail the same.
Telemeter-Sergeant Williamson: Sgt. Williamson is a tiny 13 year old Cuporo boy whose Cuporo spirit marking is a desert rose as though adorning his hair. Though he technically outranks privates, few give him much respect, due to his age and childish behavior. He is often seen going on tiresome rants, and is upset by things like bad-tasting food or feeling homesick when passing familiar settlements. Nicknamed “Sergeant Crybaby” he is a telemeter, so his duty is to receive telepathic messages and relay them, as well as use photomantic magic to create floating maps and relay hologram messages. Telemeters in the Vedarian army always have higher rank than privates, due to being mages – Williamson didn’t really earn it. His skin is a dark sandy coloration and his long hair is pitch black, often tied into a ponytail. His uniform includes a cape. He stands out as having an uncommon last name for an Adelian, which has led to speculation that he might be an aristocrat’s son.
Air Sentinel Elite Lt. Yver Naik: Naik is a young male Cuporo and part of the Air Sentinels, a small group of Airborne units that wear the heavy plated Sentinel suit. Naik’s job is dangerous, as dropping from the ship using a glider or parachute is more difficult with the heavy sentinel armor, and a bad drop is a guaranteed death. But Naik is quite a daredevil, and he feeds off the intensity of each drop. He is deadly with the heavy mace on his sentinel suit, as well as the Dragonstrike rocket-launching lance that is his meant to be his “main” armament. He is amicable and prefers to be with the unruly privates in his spare time than with other officers, or even other Air Sentinel Elites. His Cuporo marking is ivy, growing through his very short, closely cropped hair. He has a dark yellowish sort of skin color, bright blue eyes and several awards on his uniform.
Archivist-Logician Kiva Rajagopal: Kiva is a goldfish Damakran, with bright red hair and pale skin and vestigial fins on her ears, wrists and elbows, and a very gaudy-looking tail like the frills on a dress. She is tasked with keeping the First Mate up to date with supplies, a task which is greatly helped by Private Mehta’s compulsion with counting things. She also gets to suggest items to be brought aboard, but given her penchant for strange suggestions, such as arts supplies for “therapy” or a few mutoscopes to “boost morale” First Mate Sengupta examines every list and applies line item vetoes to bring the list back to sanity. Regardless, Kiva keeps trying to sneak some item or other past the First Mate and get her way.
Missions of the Liberator
P.C. 2002: The People’s Air Forces sought an exhibition tour through Vedaria and other nations to show the new vessel, but only Periterim and Sargasso agreed. The ship flew through the north of Vedaria, across into Periterim, back through to the south of Vedaria, up to Sargasso, and along the western sea back to Vedaria. No combat occurred.
P.C. 2003: The Liberator was sent to rescue the crew of a falling merchant airship. The ship collided with a hovering elemental mote, debris from the Lost World that was ejected to the sky during the Cataclysm and has remained there. This debris was hidden in clouds and greatly damaged the airship’s Kinetic Arrays. The rescue was successful, and there were only minor injuries to the merchant’s engine crew after the Arrays were disrupted and fed back energy into the engine rooms.
P.C. 2004: The Liberator overflew the Dragon Kingdoms of Oerst when they requested some assistance against Western Sea piracy. The Liberator destroyed seven ships, including a flagship, in a three-month tour. The Liberator suffered extensive damage against a pirate capital ship which mounted weaponry stolen from captured Emderuer stormboats, but it was fully repaired. The Liberator’s mission is considered successful in spite of continuing Western Sea piracy.
P.C. 2006: Liberator and two Cruisers were sent to the Vedaria-allied nation of Ghedania during a civil uprising. They had minor skirmishes with Ghedanian artillery emplacements which fired upon them, which they won with some damage. The overall goal of their presence was to attempt to intimidate both sides of the conflict to agreeing to mediation.
P.C. 2011: The Cresian government asked for Vedaria to send troops to help keep the peace as its government transitioned from some civil instability. Vedaria agreed, but committed only a small (but elite) armored battlegroup known as Battlegroup Baer and the Liberator as their support. The Liberator would play a minor role in the events unfolding there.
Today (P.C. 2012): The Liberator routinely overflies Vedaria’s borders. The Liberator travels across Vedaria, though with permission it may go to the south of Periterim or Sargasso and land there to acquire supplies. When the Liberator lands in a town or near a village, it’s sure to attract attention and bring some colorful characters out.