Author Topic: Tracker class surveillance ship (Bastion) straight out of Dreamland  (Read 595 times)

Liam's Ghost

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  The Tracker is mostly known as a surveillance vessel which served with the Terran Hegemony and later briefly with the Star League from 2407 to the end of the Reunification War. Designed to pass as one of the civilian transports of the day, the ship was largely obsoleted out of its role by the advance in shipbuilding technology, particularly the appearance of modern jumpships, which were much more difficult for the Tracker to impersonate. After a bit of a last hurrah as convoy escorts and q-ships during the Reunification War, the SLDF would remove the class from service, sending them to the scrapyard, to mothballs, or selling them on to the member states.

  Given the tremendous amount of ink that has been used describing the Black Fleet, one could be forgiven for thinking that this is where the Bastion came into the picture. However, they would be incorrect. While some Trackers did end up in the Black Fleet, the Morgan Commission never even considered the ships for reactivation, and today those ships would most likely still be buried under millions of tons of rubble in the ruins of Bandon station. Outside of those ships, the majority of remaining examples in House service were scrapped long before this, and the last known surviving members of the original class, operating with the Rim Worlds Republic, were destroyed during the Amaris War.

  So why then, are we discussing the Tracker now? Well, the appearance so close to the Bastion of an entire blakist task force in 3069 had left many in the Admiralty and the halls of power concerned over just how secure the Bastion truly was. While the blakists had been well and truly handled, just a little bit more luck on their part could have placed a fleet of nuclear armed ships in striking distance of inhabited Bastion worlds. While that force would be almost immediately destroyed, even one errant nuclear weapon could have resulted in millions of civilian casualties. While the deep patrol was meant to identify these threats and interdict them, they were too few to cover the vast territory that was their responsibility. In fact, any fleet even the Bastion could build would be too few to cover every potential path into the Bastion. There are approximately sixteen thousand stars within one hundred light years of Martin's Landing, each of which could be used to recharge the ships of an attack fleet. And as the Deep Patrol have demonstrated numerous times themselves, even large capital ships are more than capable of passing through even heavily populated star systems undetected, or even lurking in the system's outer fringes for months at a time without the system's inhabitants becoming aware of their presence. No matter every preparation the Bastion makes, a foe that they are unaware of, who has the equipment, training, and patience to do so, will be able to reach a Bastion World undetected.

  So since it is impossible to build an impenetrable wall around the Bastion, or enough ships to patrol every vector an attacker might come from, the Bastion would instead need to improve their ability to anticipate these threats. Intelligence on the goings on in the Inner Sphere has historically come from two sources, Deep Patrol forays into the near periphery or the fringes of the Inner Sphere, and the Morgan Commission. The vast majority of information the Deep Patrol gathers is signals intelligence gathered by monitoring civilian and military broadcasts in a given system, and is thus limited to whatever the locals in the system are talking about and whatever hyperpulse signals come in from other systems. If the Deep Patrol is able to locate an isolated group of fairly disreputable folks, this signals intelligence can also be supplemented with the interrogation of prisoners, though pirates and slavers don't tend to know much actionable information.

  The Morgan Commission, however, is based near Terra and has its own active information network. This means the information they provide is more detailed, requires less sifting through irrelevancies, and is more reliable, but it also must be hand carried by transport out to a waiting deep patrol force, or if the information is especially vital or ill timed, all the way out to the Bastion. This means that any information provided by the Morgan Commission will be as much as a year old before it reaches the Bastion. The Morgan Commission also operates independently and without oversite, meaning the Bastion has little to no control over what intelligence the Commission pursues or supplies.

  In 3090, unknown individuals leaked terabytes of documents revealing speculative plans by the Navy to create an intelligence service specifically tasked with placing operatives on the ground on inner sphere worlds for information gathering, something originally considered too risky to the Deep Patrol to pull off. In addition to plans related to training hundreds of agents for the task and a proposal to assemble a chain of hyperpulse generator satellites from the Bastion to the edge of the Inner Sphere to speed up the movement of data, there were detailed plans for a new class of capital ship, and here we come back to the Tracker.

  It should be acknowledged that while this modern Tracker design is clearly inspired by the original, it might at best be thought of as a half sibling. For one thing, the ship is slightly lighter, coming in at only 110,000 tons fully loaded, and constructed around a hull form that makes the intent behind the design clear. In the latter half of their service with the Terran Hegemony, Trackers often incorporated visual modifications to disguise them as the common Merchant class jumpship, though an alert and well trained eye and good sensors could spot the differences. The modern incarnation goes all in, cramming itself in a hull that is virtually indistinguishable from the Merchant class jumpships that still make up the majority of civilian jumpship traffic in the Inner Sphere. This also accounts for the ship's slightly smaller size. While an original Tracker might pass for a Merchant class ship visually or under acceleration, its size and core design means that the emergence wave it produces when it jumps into a star system is measurably more intense than what would be expected from a Merchant class ship. While this might not be noticed given the typically poor condition of the early warning networks of most Inner Sphere worlds, the designers seemed to consider it an important enough factor to re-engineer the hull and drive core to remove that telltale.

  However, eliminating one telltale may have created another. Critics have pointed out that sufficiently sophisticated sensors observing this ship, even at station keeping, will be able to notice a "mass deficite" by comparing the intensity of the drive flare relative to its acceleration, and thus determine that the ship is most definitely not a standard Merchant class. Because the Navy refuses to confirm or deny the existence of the new Tracker, we can only speculate on what their answer might be to that concern. Many insist that a monitoring station that has seen an emergence wave consistent with a Merchant class ship, and then seen something that looks exactly like a Merchant class ship pop into existence before them, are unlikely to examine it that deeply for any deception.

  If the Tracker is discovered, however, it is far from defenseless. Despite its intentionally spindly appearance, the ship has a fairly tough hull, and a protection scheme using the most advanced armor currently available. Eight concealed laser mounts, four carrying anti-missile systems and the other four carrying heavier anti-fighter weapons, are likely to effectively see off a casual attacker, but against more threatening opponents the intended tactic appears to be for the Tracker to run, not just because under full thrust it is actually quite nimble, but also because this will unmask the ship's six aft mounted capital missile launchers, which are likely to adequately discourage most pirates or local patrol vessels the ship might run afoul of. In a pinch, the tracker also possesses quarters for a platoon of marines, and could even dedicate a couple of its shuttle bays to aerofighters, though this latter option is somewhat hindered by the necessary limitations of passing for a Merchant class. In order to mimic the look of the Merchant, only two of the small craft bays directly adjoin the launch doors, meaning that to launch the other two either means clearing the first two bays, or performing a rather slow dance to swap the craft between bays.

  Of course, if the Tracker is fighting, it has failed in its primary job. To aid in its information gathering role, the tracker is packed with a whole host of extremely powerful and sensitive active and passive detection equipment. Even more important to its role is the Tracker's ability to blend in with normal traffic and hide in plain sight, theoretically allowing these ships to collect information and land operatives across vast swaths of the Inner Sphere without arousing suspicion.

  But this is all hypothetical. Following the document leaks that brought the Tracker to modern attention, the Navy's only comment on the topic in the face of public inquiry has been that they have nothing to comment, leaving the field open to the wildest of theories and speculation. If the Bastion has actually built these ships, where, how many, and what they're doing is essentially anybody's guess.
 
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Tracker Surveillance (Bastion)
Mass: 110,000 tons
Technology Base: Inner Sphere (Advanced)
Introduced: 3085
Mass: 110,000
Battle Value: 14,053
Tech Rating/Availability: E/X-X-F-F
Cost: 14,007,946,000 C-bills

Fuel: 4,000 tons (20,000)
Safe Thrust: 4
Maximum Thrust: 6
Sail Integrity: 3
KF Drive Integrity: 4
Heat Sinks: 274 (548)
Structural Integrity: 50

Armor
    Nose: 30
    Fore Sides: 30/30
    Aft Sides: 30/30
    Aft: 30

Cargo
    Bay 1:  Small Craft (4)         2 Doors   
    Bay 2:  Cargo (15707.5 tons)    2 Doors   

Ammunition:
    60 rounds of Barracuda ammunition (1,800 tons)

Dropship Capacity: 2
Grav Decks: 1 (40 m)
Escape Pods: 15
Life Boats: 10
Crew:  17 officers, 72 enlisted/non-rated, 10 gunners, 20 bay personnel, 10 passengers, 24 marines

Notes: Equipped with
    lithium-fusion battery system
    1 Mobile Hyperpulse Generators (Mobile HPG)
    1 Satellite Imager (Hyperspectral Imager)
    1 Satellite Imager (High-Resolution Imager)
    1 Satellite Imager (Look-Down Radar)
    1 Naval Comm-Scanner Suite (Large)
    1 Satellite Imager (Infrared Imager)
107.5 tons of lamellor ferro-carbide armor.

Weapons:                                    Capital Attack Values (Standard)
Arc (Heat)                              Heat  SRV     MRV     LRV      ERV    Class       
Nose (35 Heat)
5 Laser AMS                             35   2(15)    0(0)    0(0)     0(0)   AMS         
FRS/FLS (72 Heat)
6 ER Large Laser                        72   5(48)   5(48)   5(48)     0(0)   Laser       
RBS/LBS (35 Heat)
5 Laser AMS                             35   2(15)    0(0)    0(0)     0(0)   AMS         
ARS/ALS (72 Heat)
6 ER Large Laser                        72   5(48)   5(48)   5(48)     0(0)   Laser       
Aft (95 Heat)
5 Laser AMS                             35   2(15)    0(0)    0(0)     0(0)   AMS         
6 Capital Missile Launcher (Barracuda)  60   12(120) 12(120) 12(120) 12(120)  Capital Missile
    Barracuda Ammo (60 shots)
   
Good news is the lab boys say the symptoms of asbestos poisoning show an immediate latency of 44.6 years. So if you're thirty or over you're laughing. Worst case scenario you miss out on a few rounds of canasta, plus you've forwarded the cause of science by three centuries. I punch those numbers into my calculator, it makes a happy face.

(indirect accessory to the) Slayer of Monitors!

Daryk

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Re: Tracker class surveillance ship (Bastion) straight out of Dreamland
« Reply #1 on: 22 November 2023, 20:18:14 »
You know, those ER Large Lasers would go further if they were mounted as pairs... ;)

Liam's Ghost

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Re: Tracker class surveillance ship (Bastion) straight out of Dreamland
« Reply #2 on: 22 November 2023, 21:41:01 »
You know, those ER Large Lasers would go further if they were mounted as pairs... ;)

Sure, but it's mildly inconvenient to mount them that way in megameklab.  :cheesy:
Good news is the lab boys say the symptoms of asbestos poisoning show an immediate latency of 44.6 years. So if you're thirty or over you're laughing. Worst case scenario you miss out on a few rounds of canasta, plus you've forwarded the cause of science by three centuries. I punch those numbers into my calculator, it makes a happy face.

(indirect accessory to the) Slayer of Monitors!

Daryk

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Re: Tracker class surveillance ship (Bastion) straight out of Dreamland
« Reply #3 on: 23 November 2023, 05:59:50 »
Fair! ;D

Liam's Ghost

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Super secret bonus bit for the Tracker:

Unbeknownst to the common citizenry of the Bastion, seven of this class were ultimately built and serve with the intelligence service.

The first six, named the Singapore, Zanzibar, Morocco, Utopia, Rio, and Bali, were built by the Montauk Proving Grounds in the Atlantica system. Montauk stopped construction after the plans for the class leaked and the Intelligence service shut everything down to prevent further leaks.

Some time later, the Port Angeles Yard in the Olympic system would build the seventh ship, the Hong Kong. An eighth vessel, the Fountain of Youth, was planned but ultimately cancelled.

Because the ships are classified assets, the debate over whether they should be called Tracker or Singapore class ships is neatly contained almost entirely within a subset of the Bastion's intelligence community.
Good news is the lab boys say the symptoms of asbestos poisoning show an immediate latency of 44.6 years. So if you're thirty or over you're laughing. Worst case scenario you miss out on a few rounds of canasta, plus you've forwarded the cause of science by three centuries. I punch those numbers into my calculator, it makes a happy face.

(indirect accessory to the) Slayer of Monitors!

Daryk

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Oooo... spooky ships are spooky! ;D

beachhead1985

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You know, those ER Large Lasers would go further if they were mounted as pairs... ;)

How does that work?
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

Liam's Ghost

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How does that work?

Rounding magic. A bay with only a pair of large lasers rounds up to two capital damage, while a bay of six rounds to a total of five capital damage.

So if you have three bays of two, you can overall inflict more damage than a single bay of six, assuming all of them hit. And even if they don't, the multiple shots means you have more chance of at least something hitting on those higher to hit numbers.

But honestly it's an exploit that should be used sparingly, if for no other reason than it can make the record sheet a mess and bog down gameplay.
Good news is the lab boys say the symptoms of asbestos poisoning show an immediate latency of 44.6 years. So if you're thirty or over you're laughing. Worst case scenario you miss out on a few rounds of canasta, plus you've forwarded the cause of science by three centuries. I punch those numbers into my calculator, it makes a happy face.

(indirect accessory to the) Slayer of Monitors!

Giovanni Blasini

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So, wait, their only capital weapons are rearward-facing missiles?
"Does anyone know where the love of God goes / When the waves turn the minutes to hours?"
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Liam's Ghost

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Yep, the theory is if it's in a position where it needs to be using its capital missiles, it will either be running away, or far enough away that facing isn't important.
Good news is the lab boys say the symptoms of asbestos poisoning show an immediate latency of 44.6 years. So if you're thirty or over you're laughing. Worst case scenario you miss out on a few rounds of canasta, plus you've forwarded the cause of science by three centuries. I punch those numbers into my calculator, it makes a happy face.

(indirect accessory to the) Slayer of Monitors!

Daryk

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Re: Tracker class surveillance ship (Bastion) straight out of Dreamland
« Reply #10 on: 04 January 2024, 18:09:29 »
And being a spooky ship, they're probably ALL nukes... ;D

beachhead1985

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Re: Tracker class surveillance ship (Bastion) straight out of Dreamland
« Reply #11 on: 04 January 2024, 21:03:44 »
Rounding magic. A bay with only a pair of large lasers rounds up to two capital damage, while a bay of six rounds to a total of five capital damage.

So if you have three bays of two, you can overall inflict more damage than a single bay of six, assuming all of them hit. And even if they don't, the multiple shots means you have more chance of at least something hitting on those higher to hit numbers.

But honestly it's an exploit that should be used sparingly, if for no other reason than it can make the record sheet a mess and bog down gameplay.

Oh.

That I knew. I thought you were alluding to something else where that same damage also influenced range somehow.
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

Daryk

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Re: Tracker class surveillance ship (Bastion) straight out of Dreamland
« Reply #12 on: 04 January 2024, 21:25:29 »
No... by "further", I simply meant more damage, not range.  Sorry if I gave you that impression!